The coal seam gas industry is a driving force behind the region's positive outlook.
The coal seam gas industry is a driving force behind the region's positive outlook. Simon Green

Oil and gas sector encouraged to increase diversity

OIL and gas companies have been urged to increase their employee diversity or risk declining productivity and profits.

Speaking at the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association conference in Brisbane on Monday law firm K and L Gates partner Andrew Kennedy said just 23.5% of oil and gas employees are female.

He said women in the industry are underrepresented in technical roles that lead to executive positions.

"The oil and gas industry is not only male dominated but also has a 'boys club' culture," he said.

He said this could lead to lower productivity and even lawsuits in particular cases.

AGL head of workplace innovation Suzanne Westgate said a diverse workforce - including men and women from different cultures and backgrounds - had helped to better deal with stakeholders during negotiations.

She said diversity included having a workforce made up of more than just "corporates" in order to better reach different communities.

"Where you have a diversity of people, and not just corporates, you have a much easier time building trusted relations with landholders in local communities," she said.

"And for most people in this space it's black and white and it's quite obvious - if you're working in regional areas you need people with regional understanding, with regional background to be able to really engage with locals."

Mr Kennedy said getting more women in technical roles began with encouraging more school girls to do science, maths and engineering classes.

"(We) need to start looking at this as a skills issues rather than a gender issue," he said.

Mr Kennedy agreed with Ms Westgate that a diversity of opinions and views made for a better and more productive workforce.

"If a man is the best candidate for the role then of course he should be given the role. But ... being a male or a female may be considered a skill set in and of itself," he said. - ARM NEWSDESK