On June 17, 2020, SAWIE along with USAID hosted and moderated a webinar at a side event during Asia Clean Energy Forum’s (ACEF). The webinar was titled “Delivering Equality: Utility Experience in Making Change to Achieve Gender Equality and Promote Women in Leadership”
The webinar was moderated by Shalini Sarin, Co-Chair, SAWIE and included following speakers and panelists: Amanda Valenta, Senior Energy Specialist at USAID;; Jasmine Boehm Tetra Tech, Lead Change Management Coach (Engendering Utilities) at Tetra Tech; Saima Usman, Head of Member Section Division at LASURECO; Shivani Kumar, General Manager at BSES Radjhani Power Ltd.; Puneet Jain, General Manager – HR at BSES Rajdhani Power Limited (BRPL); Pramod Mishra, Head Central Engineering Services (Distribution Planning) & Project Management Office BRPL at BSES Rajdhani Power Ltd.; Amita Sharma, Zonal Manager at TATA Power Delhi Distribution Limited and Bharat Chhabra, Head of Department – Talent Development (HR) at TATA Power Delhi Distribution Limited
SAWIE Co-Chair Shalini Sarin mentioned that the energy sector remains one of the most gender imbalanced sectors. The participation of woman in power sector is highly skewed. Gender equity still holds a greater challenge in the power sector, which partly be attributed to the social and perception barriers about dominance of field-based activities, geographical mobility and shift-based working, which all have been traditionally considered negative factors for women’s participation. Ms. Sarin mentioned that SAWIE aims to bring together leaders, particularly women leaders, across the energy sector to design interventions focused around leadership, entrepreneurship, mentorship and networking that can help bridge the gender gap.
Webinar presentations showcased the best practices from USAID’s Engendering Utilities program, which works with 29 energy and water utilities around the globe to improve gender equality. The expert panel deep-dived into ground level realities, gender challenges and shared best practices to help create an enabling environment for a gender balanced workplace. Panelists and partners also discussed lessons learned from USAID’s Engendering Utilities program and best practices for creating equal opportunities for female utility employees to thrive, grow, and lead. Overall, the panelists shared their opinions and the best practices they have adopted as well as maintained within their organizations for women. They have also highlighted the challenges faced by women in the energy utility sector and how they have supported women to overcome problems.
The presentations also mentioned that the benefits of a diverse workforce are clear with over 65 percent of companies surveyed by the International Labor Organization in the Asia Pacific region reporting that gender diversity and equality initiatives enhanced business outcomes, including profitability and productivity. Most surveyed companies increased profits by 10 to 15 percent. SAWIE aims to continue working with USAID’s Engendering Utilities Program and key utilities to facilitate greater gender mainstreaming and realize the benefits for utilities in the energy sector.