Improving Gender Diversity in Power Sector Utilities

Engendering Utilities Program Phase I Report

The initial phase of the Engendering Utilities program included a first-of-its-kind study to examine the role of women and gender disparities within electric power distribution companies. The data showed wide variation in employment practices and outcomes and suggested that women were excluded from the majority of jobs within electric power distribution companies. The findings illustrated inequalities in employment outcomes and disparities in the way utilities run their businesses, both of which ultimately impact women’s ability to fully participate in the energy sector.

Conducting Groundbreaking Research on Gender Disparity in the Energy Sector

The first phase of USAID’s Engendering Utilities program focuses on improving information about and knowledge of gender in power sector utilities at the distribution level. As you will read in the report, the research phase of the program helped USAID better understand how electricity utilities can increase the labor market participation of women in the energy sector. Our goals were to better understand where women work, where they are not working, why they are not working there, and could they be working there.

The research goal of this report is to improve our knowledge of gender in power distribution companies (DISCOs) through an empirical study of labor practices in a sample of utilities throughout the world. This report is part of a USAID program designed to improve labor market opportunities for women in the energy sector and better understand how improved gender outcomes can contribute to better business practices and improved operations in distribution utilities.

The study also revealed that women work in diverse jobs at all management levels, alongside men who are their counterparts within utility companies. Jobs traditionally staffed by men in one utility may be held by women at another utility, and jobs traditionally staffed by women may be held by men elsewhere. These findings not only illustrate gender diversity of employment within utility companies, but also suggest that interventions designed to improve gender diversity must be carefully tailored to the circumstances of individual companies. Our preliminary findings suggest there is no “one size fits all” solution: HR and/or gender specialists need to gather specific data on employment and information on energy sector and HR practices to formulate successful interventions to improve gender outcomes.

Partnering with Utilities to Increase Gender Equality, Create Leadership Opportunities and Develop Talent

To address the research findings, USAID has been using this data in partnership with seven utilities through an extension of the Engendering Utilities program to collaboratively design tailored interventions to improve gender outcomes within their organizations. Each intervention is customized to meet the needs of the partner utility—improving women’s career prospects while improving the quality and cost of electricity services.

The program’s initial cohort of partner utilities span five countries in three regions:

Engendering Utilities Program Partner Utilities
Country Utility Company
Jordan Electricity Distribution Company (EDCO)
Irbid District Electricity Company (IDECO)
Georgia Energo-Pro, Georgia
Macedonia EVN Macedonia
Nigeria Eko Electricity Distribution PLC (EKEDC)
Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company (IBEDC)
Kenya Kenya Power and Lighting Company (KPLC)

USAID’s Engendering Utilities program works with electricity utilities in developing countries to increase economic opportunities for women, improve gender equality, boost business performance, and strengthen the energy sector. Through a customized best practices framework, demand-driven coaching, and a Gender Equity Executive Leadership Program, Engendering Utilities builds the capacity of utility leaders to implement gender equality interventions that increase the professional participation of women and meet their core business goals.

Launched in 2015, Engendering Utilities demonstrates USAID’s commitment to promote a path to self-reliance in developing countries by fostering enterprise-driven innovation, inclusive economic growth, and gender equality and women’s economic empowerment. Engendering Utilities is a key activity under the U.S. Government’s new Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative (W-GDP), which aims to reach 50 million women by 2025 through innovative and effective programs.

For additional information please contact Amanda Valenta or Corinne Hart.

Friday, January 29, 2016 - 12:00pm

Last updated: July 01, 2019