Energy leaders roll up their sleeves to talk workforce

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    “When we talk about women in energy, our ideas get bigger and better. How much better could it be if we got a big group together?” asked Carol Battershell, CEO, Battersea Energy, LLC, former executive with the Department of Energy and BP, of the 75 participants gathered at the Texas A & M Mays Center for a one-day collaborative workforce summit.

    The summit was extended outside of Pink Petro corporate members after founder and CEO, Katie Mehnert testified in Congress on the Energy Workforce of the Future.

    “America led the world in the development of Energy 1.0 and we’re going to lead in E2.0. And that’s going to take working together across all forms of energy.

    Katie Mehnert, Founder and CEO Pink Petro

    Arquella Hargrove, D&I Coach & Facilitator of Arquella Hargrove, Inc., wrote a James Baldwin quote on the whiteboard to prepare the audience for the challenge ahead:

    “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”  

    “Diversity is the party. Inclusion is being asked to dance,” she explained, “but picking the song is being equitable. When I was in energy long ago, it was the ‘war on talent,’” [a phrase coined by McKinsey’s Steve Hankin in 1997], which refers to the competition to attract and retain employees to replace retiring Baby Boomers (known in the energy industry as the Great Crew Change).

    Now, however, the focus is on attracting people – specifically underrepresented groups like women and other minorities – to an industry that is perceived to be “pale, male, and stale,” as opposed to industries like tech, which have a more glamorous image and are seen as cutting edge.

    “We want to represent what our society represents, so we can build the workforce of the future,” said Katie Mehnert before the audience was asked to break into groups for brainstorming sessions revolving around three topics of discussions, the results of which would then be presented by team leaders.

    The three topics were:

    1. Non-inclusive work environment/culture
    2. STEM employees find other sectors more attractive
    3. How to progress forward

    A detailed report with the results of the summit will be published by Pink Petro, and while many creative and innovative solutions were put forth, the general consensus was all of these issues can be addressed through story-telling.

    The room became progressively louder as the participants became increasing animated and, by the end of the sessions, a friendly competition had developed with each table cheering as its leader was introduced, with one leader calling his team “The Perfect 10.”

    Afterward, the audience reconvened in the main auditorium and Arquella Hargrove asked participants to sum up the experience in one word and transmit it by text from their phones. Superlatives began popping up on a large screen at the front of the room – motivating, empowering, energizing, thought-provoking, encouraging, exciting, badass.

    As Carol Battershell said in her opening remarks, “We believe everyone here has a real desire to make a difference.”

    The Workforce of the Future Summit is a program for Pink Petro Corporate Members. To become a member, apply here.