Introduction (Problem Statement)
Woodside is Australia’s largest natural gas producer with aspirations of becoming a global leader in oil and gas. With over 3,500 employees, Woodside’s aim is to build an inclusive, values-led, high-performing culture. In 2018, 30.4% of the total workforce was female and 3.7% were indigenous employees (Woodside, 2018 Annual Report).
Woodside’s increased focus on diversity and inclusion in recent years has resulted in a rise in both female and indigenous representation within the workforce. In 2013, women comprised 27.5% of the workforce, and indigenous employment was 2.6% of the workforce (Woodside, 2014 AR). Although good progress has been made, there is still a long way to go in order to achieve gender parity and unlock the benefits to the organisation that this has been shown to offer.
Woodside is a positive example of how a large organisation can promote diversity within its workforce whilst maintaining and improving financial results. The positive impacts of a diverse workforce have been shown to be many and varied to large organisations, many with significant long-term benefits (reference). Having been involved in the recruitment process, I have seen the steps we are taking to promote gender equality, but also see further opportunities for improvement. This paper will focus primarily on gender diversity in the workplace.
This is the lit review section. Start with the concept of diversity and go from there.
Diversity has been defined by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) as “the similarities and differences between individuals accounting for all aspects of one’s personality and individual identity” (SHRM, 2017). Although this definition is far broader than just gender diversity, and encourages organisations to consider and value every form of diversity, gender diversity is a key form of diversity which large organisations focus on (Lockwood, 2005).
The approach to diversity within workplaces has evolved over time, having initially been driven by the requirements to comply with equal opportunity legislation, to the current state of progressive and inclusive workplace policies within large organisations (Lockwood, 2005). This evolution can be ascribed to a greater understanding and appreciation of the benefits of diversity among the workforce on business results, both tangible and intangible.
Gender diversity progress …
Gender diversity management strategies, although well intended, may in fact have the opposite effect that which is desired if not well executed. A recent study of women with scientific backgrounds in the oil and gas industry found that targeted recruitment, hiring and promotion policies aimed at improving gender diversity, particularly in leadership roles, actually had the effect of paradoxically reinforcing male dominance in the industry (Williams, Kilanski and Muller, 2014).
The research shows that targeting diversity alone is not enough, and organisations must ensure there is a culture of inclusivity (SHRM, 2017). Workforce diversity without inclusivity may lead to an increase in discrimination, harassment, intergroup conflict and employee turnover (Chrobot-Mason & Aramovich, 2013). As such, diversity and inclusion must be viewed as simultaneous priorities for large organisations.
The business case for diversity is strong. Diversity practices are associated with a trusting workplace environment, and higher employee engagement, leading to better business performance (Downey, van der Werff, Thomas, & Plaut, 2015). Diversity also leads to greater organisational commitment and innovation in the workplace (Chrobot-Mason & Aramovich, 2013). The evidence clearly supports positive, tangible business outcomes from embracing diversity.
There are also intangible benefits to businesses with diverse workforces. Psychological empowerment of employees and identity freedom have been shown to increase with greater diversity, leading to lower workforce turnover (Chrobot-Mason & Aramovich, 2013). Diversity in the workplace has also been shown to improve marketing and recruitment opportunities (Esty, et al., 1995).
Lockwood (2005) identified six key areas where gender diversity improves business performance: “1) greater adaptability and flexibility in a rapidly changing marketplace; 2) attracting and retaining the best talent; 3) reducing costs associated with turnover, absenteeism and low productivity; 4) return on investment (ROI) from various initiatives, policies and practices; 5) gaining and keeping greater / new market share (locally and globally) with an expanded diverse customer base; and 6) increased sales and profits” (Lockwood, 2005, pg.3).
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In a recent survey by Ernst & Young (2019), respondents highlighted that only 11% of oil and gas senior executives are female, and more needs to be done to promote women into senior roles. The upside of this low representation of women in leadership roles is that the oil and gas industry are yet to take full advantage of this large and growing talent pool (Boston Consulting Group, 2017).
Having now analysed the benefits of diverse and inclusive workforces for large organisations, I will now examine the practices that Woodside currently has in place, and what further practices can be put in place, to ensure the benefits of a diverse and inclusive workforce are attained.
Best Practice Approaches / Solutions
How companies generally can incorporate key elements of lit review. 1.5 pages.
Quote from Boston Consulting Group (2017): “The loss to the industry is threefold. First, oil and gas companies have a smaller number of highly qualified candidates to choose from when filling positions, especially in the middle and higher ranks, because many talented women either never join the industry or drop out prematurely. Second, these companies miss out on the higher quality of teamwork, diversity of perspectives, and creativity in the solving of technical and business problems that characterise those with larger percentages of female employees. Third, the industry’s relative lack of gender diversity, particularly in the senior ranks, hurts its reputation among women as a career choice. This can create a vicious circle, with the industry finding it progressively more difficult to recruit women across the board.”
Take actions from the Boston Group article.
And this: https://au.drakeintl.com/drakebusinessreview/pdf/Diversity.pdf
What can company XYZ keep doing, start doing, stop doing. 1 page.
Preferential hiring and promotion strategies – already underway (Williams et al., 2014).
Mentoring programs (Williams et al., 2014).
Diversity training (Williams et al., 2014).
Affinity groups (Williams et al., 2014).
- Boston Consulting Group, 2017.
- Chrobot-Mason, D., Aramovich, N. (2013). The Psychological Benefits of Creating an Affirming Climate for Workplace Diversity. Group & Organization Management.
- Downey, S., van der Werff, L., Thomas, K., & Plaut, V. (2015). The role of diversity
- practices and inclusion in promoting trust and employee engagement. Journal
- of Applied Social Psychology.
- Esty, Katharine, Richard Griffin, and Marcie Schorr-Hirsh (1995). Workplace diversity. A managers guide to solving problems and turning diversity into a competitive advantage. Avon, MA: Adams Media Corporation.
- EY survey: https://www.ey.com/en_gl/oil-gas/how-diversity-boosts-performance-in-oil-and-gas
- Lockwood, N. (2005). Workplace Diversity: Leveraging the Power of Difference for Competitive Advantage. Society for Human Resource Management.
- Society for Human Resources Management. 2017. Introduction to the Human Resources Discipline of Diversity. Retrieved from https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/tools-and-samples/toolkits/pages/introdiversity.aspx
- Williams, C. L., Kilanski, K., & Muller, C. (2014). Corporate Diversity Programs and Gender Inequality in the Oil and Gas Industry. Work and Occupations, 41(4), 440–476.