Calls for equality being heard by energy industry

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Chevron among those supporting programs that foster gender equality

Originally published in Midland Reporter-Telegram

By Mella McEwen

Equality, whether it’s economic equality or relates to pay or gender, is a rising priority that is being felt among the nation’s businesses.

The oil and gas industry is no exception, and several companies with a major presence in the Permian Basin are taking steps to address the issue. Among them is Chevron, with 600 employees at its Midland campus and more in its field locations.

Late last month, the company provided a $5 million grant to Catalyst, a global nonprofit working toward workplace gender equality, to support its Men Advocating Real Change program.

The Midland location last year was one of Chevron’s first to launch a MARC program. The Chevron Women’s Network and Chevron Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Mike Wirth brought the program to the company in 2017. The company instituted a pilot program in Houston, and it has expanded to seven Chevron locations globally and includes more than 750 employees. It joins other employee networks at the Midland campus, including a Women’s Network and Black Employees Network that brings the workforce together with cultural events, networking, volunteering and speaker events.

“Men have a critical role to play in creating inclusive workplaces, yet are too often an untapped resource in gender initiatives.”

Catie Matthews , Chevron Public Affairs, Midland

“MARC (Men Advocating Real Change), launched in Midland in 2017, was created for and is led by men who are committed to creating a culture of inclusion. Participants, both men and women, learn how inclusion impacts our business, the role we all play in creating an inclusive culture and are given opportunities to develop their inclusive leadership skills. They meet to discuss the role gender can play at work and becoming aware of unconscious biases.”

She continued, “The program is run through our Midland Women’s Employee Network, which is active in leadership, networking and community initiatives. They also help drive Chevron’s investment in STEM education in our communities, as we believe this is the key ingredient to creating a more diverse work environment. In fact, on March 30, Chevron is the STEM sponsor at Girls World Expo at the Horseshoe Arena, and our Women’s Employee Network is planning and volunteering.

Matthews pointed out that Chevron’s programs extend to supporting parents, especially new mothers, by providing a certified lactation consultant to provide breastfeeding workshops in Midland. The same lactation consultant is available to provide in-home return-to-work lactation consultations to women returning to work following maternity leave. The program mirrors the program that is in place in Houston and other Chevron locations. The breastfeeding workshops will be held at the child care center to benefit all families at the center, and not just Chevron’s families. Parenting workshops for mothers and fathers are being offered through a Nurse Practitioner in Midland.

The goal of the MARC program is to engage and empower male executive and leaders to model inclusive behaviors, influence more equitable talent management systems and processes and build effective partnerships across gender. Chevron’s grant will support expansion of the MARC leadership training efforts.

Katie Mehnert, chief executive officer and founder of Pink Petro, which advocates for women in the energy industry, applauded Wirth and Chevron “for focusing investments where we can make a real impact and men as change agents is key.”

She told the Reporter-Telegram by email that she doesn’t believe the energy industry is doing enough toward gender equality.

“Tech, despite its privacy issues, continues to take quality talent. The war for talent is real and we need to truly transform our culture.”

Katie Mehnert, Founder/CEO Pink Petro and Experience Energy

“We need to show the value of what a career in energy provides the next generation. It’s pretty impactful work, but we’re not investing enough in the positive stories and sharing who we are. Having great culture and value proposition for meaningful work is what attracts and retains a workforce, regardless of gender. As of late Pink Petro has expanded and created Experience Energy, a careers site and culture practice with the GapingVoid to help accelerate progress for energy.”

She went on to note that equality has been discussed for five years. “We need to go beyond allyship and giving women a seat at the table,” she said. “That’s now a 5-year-old discussion.”

“Men need to champion women and challenge the traditions and customs that maintain the status quo.”

“It gets back to culture and what society accepts as the standard. I also think we need to de-politicize the equality movement. Inequality weakens our nation, compromises democracy and lowers our standards by which we can all thrive. America was founded on the principle of ‘All Men are Created Equal.’ We need to extend that to all genders, nationalities and cultures and truly embrace inclusion.”

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