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The Practical Value of Workplace Diversity and Inclusion in the Oil and Gas Sector

In the modern era, the oil and gas industry has had to overcome and manage ever-more-significant technological, economic, and environmental challenges in order to operate, survive, and grow. The initiative and solutions for these challenges have arisen from diverse groups of people working together successfully within increasingly complex and uncertain circumstances. As the scale and complexity of these challenges have become more multifaceted, the importance of diversity, inclusion, engagement, and collaboration between all participants and organizations has grown exponentially.

Organizations have long recognized the potential for diverse teams to improve overall creativity, innovation, and productivity, thereby achieving consistently better business outcomes—the so called “diversity bonus.” This is particularly true and relevant for the oil and gas industry, which constantly has to manage technical and economic uncertainty and major operating hazards and continually seek business performance improvement and efficiencies in order to operate sustainably and meet ever-higher stakeholder expectations.

Developing successful diverse teams, however, presents practical questions and challenges, including

  • What type of diversity will really add value to a task?
  • How will a diverse group of people relate to and support one another?
  • How can major innovation be delivered consistently while working within highly structured management systems and standards that aim to achieve a high degree of consistency and minimize failure frequency?
  • What is the most useful role of the manager/leader for such teams?

This paper describes diversity and inclusion in its broadest sense and its benefits and challenges within the context of the oil and gas industry, in particular with regard to petroleum engineering and subsurface teams. Several common and practical industry situations are considered, and the merits of further opportunities are discussed. The fundamental actions and behaviors that help oil and gas companies promote and establish more-diverse and -inclusive teams and cultures, in order to deliver outstanding results, are examined.

This paper examines how diverse and inclusive teams and organizational cultures make a significant difference to workplace environment and, consequently, to companies’ performance. This paper considers diversity and inclusion definitions, historical and current practical thinking and best practice, and areas for further improvement.

A key reference point for the paper was a global survey undertaken in May 2020 by the authors as members of the Business Management and Leadership Committee of the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE). The survey was openly shared online, engaging a wide range of people within the oil, gas, and energy industry from different geographical areas, genders, age groups, and disciplines. A total of 460 responses were received and form the basis for much of the analysis within this paper.

Download the complete paper from SPE’s Health, Safety, Environment, and Sustainability Technical Discipline page for free until 19 May.

Find Paper 202301 on OnePetro here.

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2021-05-06 16:22:09

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