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Tackling the lack of diversity in the energy sector

Energy Systems Catapult was established in 2015 and from the very beginning a core part of its mission has not only been to transform the energy system but to also challenge how things are done, including the lack of diversity.

Building an inclusive community through recruitment

Since day one at Energy Systems Catapult, the Chief Executive supported by the Chair and Board, has been keen to meet its mission of unleashing innovation to accelerate the transformation of the UK’s energy system but also to challenge how that is done.

Key to the success of this challenge is putting people at the heart of the energy system transformation, because at the end of every pipe and wire are people, with diverse wants and needs. Ensuring that innovation works for a wide range of people, requires understanding, and ideally, reflecting that diversity. Coupled with the fact there is compelling evidence that diverse teams are more innovative and productive, encouraging diversity within the workplace should make the Catapult better positioned to unlock innovation and develop outcomes that work for all consumers.

Yet the UK energy sector is perceived as, and in some cases is, male, pale and stale. An early investigation into the statistics relating to diversity in the energy sector demonstrated to Energy Systems Catapult that much more needed to be done to encourage people from all different backgrounds into the sector.

The Catapult chose not to set targets or have any ‘special initiatives’. Instead the Catapult clearly communicated its mission, vision and values, their principles for operation and building an inclusive community through recruitment.

There is no image of a ‘Catapult person’, recruitment is based purely on ability and team fit is based on whether candidates can do the job as well as their alignment with the Catapult’s mission.

Man with screwdriver and some science equipment

A comparison of Energy System Catapult’s employer diversity vs the energy sector



It is difficult to obtain credible figures for women employed in the UK energy sector. According to research carried out by the Guardian in 2018, 21 companies employ 75% of the UK energy workforce.

Furthermore, this research shows that, within the UK energy sector, women occupy 50% of all the office and business support roles and only 15% of the technical roles. In addition, as quoted in a recent study by PowerFul Women, only 5% of executive board seats in UK-based energy companies are held by women and 61% have no women at all on their board.

The percentage of women in roles across the Energy Systems Catapult as at August 2020:

Role typesPercentage of women
All Directors/Executive43%
Business Leaders/Heads of33%
Support – analysts/admin etc45%

According to the Office of National Statistics (ONS), In the UK, women aged 16 – 65 make up 47% of the UK workforce.

As the Catapult has matured the number of women employed as a percentage of the overall team has steadily grown:

Year of employment Women employed


ONS collect stats on diversity both from the total workforce and split by industry area. Energy, gas, and steam distribution (EGSD) is one of the other categories measured. The results of the ethnic split within this industry classification is shown below: –

EthnicityTotal workforce %EGSD %Energy Systems Catapult 2020 %
White British/European/Other879482
Mixed race312
Chose not to answer001