PESA Diversity Study Identifies Activities Needed to Advance Women in the Workplace

female boardroom
female boardroom

The Petroleum Equipment & Services Association (PESA) has performed a gender diversity study across the oil and gas industry’s service and equipment sector to analyze the current state of inflow and outflow of female talent, and has identified actions organizations can take to advance women into greater leadership positions within the sector.

Why should PESA and its member companies care about diversity? Inclusion and diversity is not only a good business practice, but it brings results.

Numerous studies show companies that promote diversity perform better than their industry peers — select examples:

1. Margin: Companies with at least 30 percent female leaders end up raking in six percent higher net margins. ―Peterson Institute for International Economics

2. Market Share: Forty-eight percent of companies in the U.S. with more diversity at senior management level improved their market share the previous year, while only 33 percent of companies with less diverse management reported similar growth. ―Center for Talent Innovation

3. Decision Making: Six hundred business decisions made by 200 different teams over a two-year span found that more gender-diverse teams made better decisions up to 73 percent of the time. ―Forbes

The oil and gas industry has historically struggled with attraction and retention of female talent. In the U.S., women comprise 47 percent of the workforce (14.5 percent within the energy sector overall). PESA has discovered that women comprise 16 percent of the services and equipment sector of the energy industry workforce.

Currently, only 38 percent of U.S.-based technical operational roles within the sector are filled by women, and only eight percent of top leaders in technical operational roles are women. Alternatively, the percentage of women in U.S.-based top leadership positions in support function roles is significantly higher at 27 percent.

When looking at 2017 inflow of female talent into the sector, of the total 2017 U.S. entry-level sector hires, 16 percent are women as compared to 18 percent of experienced female hires.

Increases in inflow are an important step toward companies achieving equality; however, there has historically been a discrepancy between the number of women entering the sector industry versus their overall percentage in the workforce over time.

A lack of flexible work programs is the most cited reason for why women exit the sector workforce, seconded by better career prospects. Unfortunately, 50 percent of companies do not currently track why women are exiting.

Through our research with Accenture, we have outlined three steps the sector can take toward creating a diverse workforce, while creating an environment where women are significantly more likely to excel and advance:

• Bold Leadership: Be open about your targets and plans to make diversity a way of operating.

• Comprehensive Action: Supporting everyone ―not only women ― is the best way to create an inclusive environment where everyone can succeed.

• Empowering Environment: A place where people can feel free to be their authentic selves and inspired to do their best work.

Retention and advancement programming with C-suite endorsement and visibility can make substantial impacts to individual women’s experiences as well as on overall gender diversity in the industry. By working to understand unmanaged attrition and implementing solutions in response, the service and equipment sector of the energy industry can reduce the outflow of women and become an increasingly diverse place to work.


PESA surveyed more than 35 companies, covering over 250,000 working men and women, to understand what it will take to create a workplace in which women and men have equal opportunities for advancement. PESA also analyzed published data related to a range of workforce issues, including labor force, progression, talent gaps, company culture, sexual harassment, company gender by level and company best practices.


For more information regarding the PESA Diversity Benchmarking Study, please visit


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