Women Outnumber Men on BP's Leadership Team for the First Time

The 11-person team includes six women and five men.
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CHICAGO — BP plc is now the first and only major oil company to have more women than men in its group of top executives. On March 1, Anja-Isabel Dotzenrath and Leigh-Ann Russell stepped up as executive vice president, gas & low carbon energy, and executive vice president, innovation & engineering, respectively.

CEO Bernard Looney's senior leadership team now includes six women and five men, according to a Bloomberg Equality report.

Dotzenrath headed RWE's renewables business before joining BP to advance its gas and low carbon energy business by integrating its existing natural gas capabilities with significant growth in renewables such as wind, solar and hydrogen.

She cited the support of her father, also an engineer, as well as the scientific and technological knowledge he shared as a reason she followed in his footsteps.

"I was one of a handful of women studying to become an electrical engineer. Fortunately, times are changing, and one of the reasons I was keen to join BP was its approach to gender balance and plans to get more women into leadership positions," Dotzenrath shared on BP's website. "Creating greater diversity across teams is not only the right thing to do, it also leads to better business performance. And that matters because I want BP to compete and win. This is our time to make a material difference in the energy transition, and to be at our best, we need to draw talent from the widest possible pool."

Russell leads a team focused on driving digital and innovation, overseeing a multimillion-dollar research and development spend directed at helping BP and its customers to thrive in the energy transition, according to the company. She joined BP 16 years ago as a completions engineer.

"Until last year, there had been three women at executive level in the company," she said. "Now, we have twice the number — in one year — that's a phenomenal change!"

Russell noted that her proudest achievement is not individual, but rather her track record of helping others to succeed in their careers.

"I've always asked: what position can I get to where I can make as much difference to people's lives? How can I have the biggest influence possible to deliver the best results for the company I love? That's what gets me up in the morning; that's why I'm grateful to lead I&E."

BP isn't satisfied with achieving this milestone only with the executive team; the company next seeks to achieve gender parity among its 120 most-senior leadership roles by 2025 and have women in 40 percent of the roles one step down from this group.

Creating diverse teams requires starting with education. Russell told the news outlet that she estimated three women were in her engineering class at Aberdeen University in Scotland, while 3 percent of Dotzenrath's electrical engineering course were women.

Women are studying science, technology, engineering and mathematics in increasing numbers, but they still only make up around 35 percent of students in these disciplines, according to research from the United Kingdom's Universities and Colleges Admissions Service. Within the oil and gas industry, women make up approximately a quarter of entry-level positions, according to the Boston Consulting Group.

BP already has more women in entry-level roles, reaching approximately 40 percent as of 2020, and 39 percent of its companywide positions are held by women. Four out of its ten company directors are women, above the industry average of 14 percent, according to the third annual report by the Energy Leaders' Coalition.

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