International Women's Day at So Energy

So Energy

This International Women’s Day, we’re celebrating the brilliant women of So Energy. This year’s theme is Break the Bias, so we’ve caught up with a few of the women who work here to hear their stories, thoughts on gender equality in our industry and what more we can be doing as a business.

Firstly, we asked our CEO Monica Collings for the story of her journey and her thoughts on equality in the sector, and in working life in general.

Monica break the bias

What made you begin a career in the energy industry?

I’ve always been passionate about sustainability and climate change, even before joining the utilities sector. I was approached about joining an executive team in a smaller supply business and saw the opportunity as exciting having spent a lot of my career at bigger, more corporate companies.

Having worked in automotive, property and retail, I have valuable experience in supporting the energy transition, so my ‘out of sector’ experience transfers in a really relevant way.

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing female leaders in what is still a largely male-dominated industry? 

I’ve worked in lots of male-dominated industries (I started my career in automotive dealer networks which had very few females) and at times earlier in my career I tried to behave ‘more like a man’ and not be authentic and genuine. The biggest challenge I see comes when women are marginalised, which doesn’t always happen consciously.

Being the only female in the boardroom or on a night out with colleagues can lead to feelings of lack of support, or feeling like women have a lesser voice. It’s also hard to see great role modelling in these environments if there’s no one to aspire to be like or learn from. Mentoring and role modelling are very important, and it’s something So Energy takes seriously.

Do you think Ofgem should play more of a part in making the utility sector more inclusive?

All businesses have a responsibility to help level the playing field, promoting gender equality can’t just sit with the regulator. There are lots of great organisations like POWERful Woman, Future Leaders, The Utilities Mentoring Network and Women Utilities Network. I sit on the board of Future Leaders and next month I’m holding a breakfast session with POWERful Woman talking about Imposter Syndrome and how women can overcome it.

So, we all need to play a part, and that’s not just down to female leaders to champion, male leaders also need to do their bit.

This year's theme of International women’s day is Breaking The Bias. What is So Energy doing to Break the Bias of Women in the Industry?

I love the theme, and I’m proud of So Energy’s commitment to gender equality. We’re celebrating International Women’s Day with a brilliant guest speaker, making pledges and running workshops. But as a company, it’s not about celebrating just one day.

Something I’m particularly proud of is having women-friendly policies like our Menopause Policy, which is something I believe every business should have. Going through early menopause myself this is a topic I understand deeply, but before it affected me wasn’t even on my radar. Companies demonstrating understanding of the unique issues that affect women helps make the workplace more accessible for women.

A third of my management team is female, and as a company we’re very big on celebrating successes, which is something so easy to do and helps women build confidence.  

We also asked our teams for their views on gender equality and working at So Energy.

Aneta break the bias

Firstly, we asked what it means to be a part of the energy industry. Mia (Customer Operations) told us that she’s always enjoyed being part of an industry that everyone will need help from at some point in their lives, while Katie (Customer Care) likes the fact that she can help family and friends understand the industry. Similarly, Hande (Customer Care) has become a sustainability advocate in her daily life. Rebecca (Change Team) told us that it’s rewarding to work for a company that puts customers at the forefront of everything we do.

Katie break the bias

Being a woman in energy

When asked what it’s like being a woman in the energy industry, the overwhelming theme was that while there have been improvements, there’s a lot still to be done. Hande and Aneta (Customer Care) find having a female CEO inspiring, and a positive step, while Rebecca told us that while things are better than when she started in the industry 7 years ago, she still sees a disproportionate number of white males in positions of management.

Hande break the bias

Breaking the Bias

So, what’s So Energy doing to Break the Bias? Mia told us that equality in all its forms is at the heart of the company’s decision making. Katie told us that the growing number of women in senior positions, as well as the number of young women joining the company, is significant for her. Aneta referenced our brilliant Diversity and Inclusion Group, while Hande spoke of the importance of gender inclusivity in all of our training.

Doing more

But, we know we can do more, so we asked what people would like us to work on. Mia would like to see more showcasing of the brilliant women we have working in our teams to inspire others to enter the industry. Katie also wants to hear the stories and successes of the women in senior positions at the company. Rebecca suggested we take a broader demographic of staff to industry meetings. Finally, Rachel (People Team) reminded us that one of our core values is that we’re Ambitious, and that this should encourage us to be bold and stand as an example for the rest of the industry.