Equity Leaders Training for Emerging Female Leaders

The Cause

Young Women in Energy (YWE) is a nonprofit organization for young women, by young women, created to support the retention and advancement of women in the energy sector. YWE provides a space for women to grow their network, receive peer support, and gain access to development opportunities. Our flagship program is the annual YWE awards, now in its fifth year, which recognizes women rising into leadership positions and using their influence to impact change within their companies and the industry.

One of YWE’s key goals is to reduce economic and institutional barriers that women encounter working in Alberta’s energy sector. Many barriers contribute to the under-representation of women in leadership, including lack of female leadership development strategies, limited access to mentors, outdated corporate policies and practices, and systemic bias in hiring and promotion (Conference Board of Canada, 2012). Women account for only 19% of oil and gas employees, and only 10% of high-earning roles in the industry (Natural Resources Canada, 2015). We want to change the face of energy by giving women opportunities to develop their leadership skills.

Our proposed project will complement our current programming by offering inclusivity training to YWE Awards Alumni through “Equity Focused Leadership”. This program is delivered by Next Gen Men, a nonprofit that offers professional development to leaders, providing tools, strategies and resources to put gender equity into practice. Next Gen Men will deliver this program to our YWE awards alumni to provide these emerging female leaders with tools to assess circumstances through a diversity lens.

This 14-module professional development program, delivered over 6 months, helps shift the culture around gender equity in the workplace. Next Gen Men will cover topics including, but limited to:
- Uncovering unconscious bias
- Challenging gender roles and stereotypes
- Unpacking leadership and communication styles
- Understanding power and privilege
- Putting allyship into practice
- Supporting mental health and work-life balance
- Shifting toward gender-equitable policies and organizational practices

This program will train our YWE awards alumni to critically assess the workplace through others’ perspectives. Upon completion of the program, they will act as champions, advocate for change within their workplaces to progress diversity and inclusion, and will be positioned to transform their organizational culture.

Who Will it Benefit?

The program will be attended by 20 young female leaders from the group of YWE Award Alumni, who represent mid-to-senior level positions from some of the industry’s most recognized companies, including the Alberta Energy Regulator, Britt Land Services, Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, Cenovus, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Devon Canada Corporation, Enbridge Inc., Enerplus, Gibson Energy, Husky Energy, Shell, Suncor Energy, and TransCanada. Our award winners are from both Calgary and Edmonton.

Program participants will benefit directly from this training. Throughout the program, each participant will acquire theoretical and practical knowledge around the benefits of gender equity in the workplace. They will discuss effective strategies to strengthen policies and practices for gender equity in the workplace, and will form a community to share best practices as they complete the program together.

During and following completion of the program, participants will apply the theories and strategies within their organizations to change the corporate culture, beginning with influencing their immediate teams. By applying these strategies, the attendees will improve their leadership skills while forming a more inclusive workforce.

The strategies learned during the program may also be relayed by participants to the executive teams within their organizations. With an increased interest in reverse mentoring, many of these emerging leaders have opportunities to provide feedback to senior leadership. This culture and awareness will spread throughout their companies, as those who attended the training will become advocates for diversity within their workplace.

Training these women to approach decisions through a diversity lens will also influence the next generation of leaders. When these women apply their learned tactics of equity leadership in the workplace, they will pass down a culture of caring within their own teams, impacting their team members and direct reports.

Finally, as with all YWE programs, we hope to see a positive impact within the industry as we assist these women with their career growth within the energy sector.