The EY Women in Power and Utilities Index suggests that the industry’s challenges around innovation and diversity may be linked.
Utilities are on a countdown to reinvention. Disruptive transformation — driven by renewable generation, digital technologies and changing consumer expectations — has turned the traditional industry model upside down and set the industry on a rapid path to three critical tipping points, when everything changes forever.
Amid this fundamental change, the ability to innovate will be critical. According to the Center for Talent Innovation, it is serial innovation that drives and sustains growth in today’s fiercely competitive global economy. But new research and interviews we’ve conducted with several leaders in power and utilities (P&U) suggest that utilities’ innovation strategies may be missing a critical ingredient — gender-equal leadership.
For P&U companies, the innovation paradox is a major focus of investment and strategy. Cyntressa Dickey, EY Americas Energy — People Advisory Services Leader, says that utilities need to rethink how to both access and deploy innovation if they are to compete in a new energy world. “As the P&U sector transforms, utilities are facing competition across the value chain from numerous new market entrants that see the potential to differentiate. These new competitors include large technology players, data or service aggregators and other energy companies.
“Combatting this threat and staying relevant in the future requires utilities to consider a new approach. Imagine if utilities could meet exponential disruption with exponential inclusion? Providing equitable opportunities to the right talent could further drive innovation and deliver value quicker to customers.”
But are utilities equipped to drive this innovation when a major roadblock stands in their way — a lack of gender equality?
The theme for 2019’s International Women’s Day is “more powerful together.” As utilities face an urgent need to transform and innovate to be ready for the tipping points that will change their sector forever, it’s a particularly timely call to action. Innovation that uncovers new paths to growth will only spring from high-performing, gender-diverse teams that maximize the power of different opinions, perspectives and cultural references.