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2018

Women in
Commodities

Increasing diversity and boosting the number of women in leadership positions can benefit the commodities sector and the wider economy. How can this be achieved? We ask five successful women for their thoughts.

01Introduction

On International Women’s Day, Ángel Gurría, Secretary-General of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development spoke about the challenges of gender inequality and how “the ultimate purpose is to reduce and ideally eliminate the gender gap so that every girl and every woman in the world can fulfill their potential.”

The glass ceiling issue was a cultural issue, Gurría said, and would remain a cultural issue if public policies did not address it. His words echo those of Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer, who has stated that “the thing that will bring the most to change our culture is... having more women with more power.”

According to Gurría, “unless women get on board, the economy may suffer, productivity may suffer, competitiveness may suffer and the economy will not grow at the desired speed. Not enough progress has been made in closing the gender gap, and in fact, in some countries gender inequality has been increasing.”

One of those countries – where gender inequality is increasing – is the United States. This is surprising to many, since it wasn’t that long ago that the US was among the global leaders in women’s workforce participation. As recently as 1990, the labor force participation rate among prime-age American women was near the top of advanced economies in the OECD. In 1990, the LFPR for women of prime working age in the US reached 74%. Unfortunately, since then, that rate has stayed roughly stable while increasing steadily elsewhere, pushing the US down to 20th place among 22 advanced OECD economies by 2016.

The main likely culprit for this dramatic drop is that the US is the only country in the OECD that doesn’t provide income support during maternity or parental leave by law, essentially forcing women to become either mothers or professionals. Conceivably, a score that evaluates the impact of a bill on how many female workers would choose to remain in the workforce may help policy. Still, incentivizing women to remain in the workforce may not be enough to drive change on its own. S&P Global believes that a dual-pronged effort of increasing entry and retention of women to the American workforce, particularly those professions traditionally filled by men, represents a substantial opportunity for growth in the world’s principal economy, with the potential to add 5%−10% to nominal GDP in just a few decades.

02 Sarah Bairstow, Head of LNG Marketing (Commercial) at Santos GLNG
03 Sarah Cottle, Co-Head of Content at S&P Global Platts
04 Anne-Sophie Corbeau, Head of Gas Analysis at BP
05 Phaedra Deckart, GM, Energy Supply
and Origination at AGL Energy
06 María Victoria Zingoni, Executive Managing Director of Downstream at Repsol