We are all aware that the percentage of females working in the industry in the UK falls short. We know that this is a resource which is under-utilised. So what can be done to increase and retain the numbers, and how can the legal framework help?

This paper firstly discusses some of the reasoning behind the low levels of representation of women in the UK oil and gas workforce. It goes on to discuss how under-representation can be tackled, from a legal perspective.

The paper outlines the current legislative framework: in plain terms what is required by the law and what is prohibited. It goes on to focus in particular examples of recent legislative developments which are intended to act as a catalyst for more rapid social change, by contrast to established equality law which has achieved only a slow improvement in workplace diversity. The paper also considers some of the practical impact of these new laws, such as the challenges involved in enabling flexible working patterns whilst meeting operational and logistical demands.

The paper identifies what could be gained by embracing the legal requirements which aim for a working environment where employees are better enabled to combine their careers with their personal and family lives, and where both parents can play an equal role in the early stages of their children's lives. These future workplaces are significantly more attractive to women. The paper concludes that oil and gas employers should take a proactive view on legal developments such as flexible working and shared parental leave. Employers need to be forward-thinking about how they facilitate these changes and position themselves to attract recruits from the female population and ensure that they retain talented female employees throughout the organisation. The industry should aspire towards creating a seismic shift in the level of female participation in its workforce.

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