Opinion: Policy Changes in Women's Energy Network

Blog Post created by katie.mehnert Champion on Dec 27, 2017

Santa Claus came early this year to bring change...and a little more equality.   In February and again in early December.


The Women's Energy Network is changing its membership policies.


The organization put out a policy statement earlier this month that allows a new kind of member: males.


I'm thrilled and applaud national president, and former Shell colleague, Jeannie Gardner for institutionalizing this move -- a legacy truly and testament to her leadership in changing culture. 


Men will now be allowed to join the Women’s Energy Network if they satisfy all the requirements of membership. 


While men are allowed to join the network, the policy clarifies that their membership does not provide for men to serve on the board of directors.   It's good to see change; I hope men will get to serve this organization like I did years ago.


This isn't the only game changing policy change instituted by the 23-year old WEN.  Earlier this year WEN also changed its bylaws to allow the inclusion of unemployed energy and retired professionals.   The policy changed indicated "In the case of applicants who are currently unemployed, but have worked in the energy industry in their last immediate place of employment, are currently seeking employment in the energy industry, and meet all other membership criteria, such applicants may be considered for membership."


I applaud this decision too...because Excluding the Unemployed is just ... wrong.   After all it's hard to get women into the industry, why would anyone want to keep out those who are looking for work, especially during a landmark downturn when we're losing women to tech, finance and other more desirable industries.  Many organizations, like SPE and other organizations in the industry have create niche networks for those looking for work and in transition since the downturn, and it's grown their membership.   


Having men, unemployed, retirees, and yes, even the curious about the energy industry has helped to grow our community.  After all, isn't it about inclusion and How Inclusive Communities People and Companies are Gearing for the Next Era of Energy?  


But let's put this aside and talk about the real challenge here -- changing the culture around women supporting other women. 


Many of you -- our sponsors, friends, colleagues, members and the curious have contacted me on numerous occasions insisting Pink Petro partner with the Women's Energy Network.  I couldn't agree more.  Since Pink Petro announced our intent to launch a social media company that elevates female and minority talent in 2014 and the industry's value proposition, we've attempted to work with WEN to launch a partnership.  And, for the third year in a row, we've been unsuccessful.   Further when we launched in 2015, after years of service, paying my dues, showing up to events, fundraising hundreds of thousands of dollars, I was personally stripped of my membership and scolded for launching a company to help the cause.   I was ... well, excluded.  


Last week the WEN National board contacted me to let me know they voted (again, against a partnership) and didn't wish to partner due to a "lack of trust" in Pink Petro.  


So I've tried.  Really, I have. But you cannot change what doesn't want to progress.  


What I can do is continue the path forward and make progress, including those who want to work on this effort, together. Pink Petro partners with over 25 organizations worldwide to create a community committed to ending the gender gap.  Our 42+ corporate and entrepreneur companies pride ourselves in extending our reach not just within industry, but external to other industries, to the public, and in the mainstream media.  Our mission is to create a new future for energy with women, men, minorities, veterans, gays, lesbians, transexuals, and anyone else who wants IN on the best industry fueling our planet.


So, maybe 2018 will bring some more policy and culture change... perhaps the WEN National board will institutionalize trust in its culture, extend its hand, and allow partnerships with other women's organizations and companies who care to serve the greater good and challenge of attracting, retaining and developing people of all kinds, shapes, sizes and job backgrounds, into our sector.  After all, we have so much work to do and together, everyone can achieve more. 


For now, I'm pleased to see these changes and am hopeful always for the future.  The door has been open for a partnership for anyone who wants to see a new future in energy and will continue to be in our community.  Together we are better.