The role of male allies in progressing towards gender parity in Africa’s Energy and Power sector

James Hynd
James Hynd

Allyship is an essential aspect of promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion in Africa’s energy and power sector. Allyship refers to the practice of individuals who have more privilege and power than others using their position to support and advocate for marginalized groups.

In the context of Africa’s energy and power sector, allyship can take many forms, including:

Advocating for greater representation of marginalized groups in leadership positions and decision-making processes within the sector.

Providing support and mentorship to individuals from underrepresented communities, particularly women and minority groups, to help them advance in their careers.

Educating oneself and others on the barriers faced by marginalized groups in the energy and power sector, such as discrimination, unconscious bias, and lack of access to resources.

Using one’s influence and platform to raise awareness and advocate for policies and practices that promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in the sector.

Amplifying the voices of marginalized groups by actively listening to their experiences and perspectives and advocating for their inclusion in industry discussions and events.

Allyship is particularly important in the energy and power sector in Africa because the sector is still dominated by men, particularly in leadership positions. This lack of diversity can lead to a lack of diverse perspectives and ideas, which can ultimately hinder progress and innovation in the sector. By practicing allyship, individuals can help to create a more inclusive and equitable energy and power sector in Africa, which can lead to more sustainable and prosperous energy systems for all.

To achieve gender balance, both men and women need to advocate for it. In general, Gender mainstreaming faces the following challenges:

  • The political will to enforce gender mainstreaming policies;
  • Identifying and tackling unconscious bias against gender (unconscious bias often means that stereotypes and biases can be unintentionally taken against women and as a result, this can hinder their business);
  • Influencing the political will across the private and private sectors.

Progress towards gender equity can be accelerated when men act as allies. Energy Drive demonstrates how they have become an ally for gender equity in Africa’s energy and Power sector, and how this has accrued mutual benefits.

Energy Drive was founded 12 years ago, focusing on disrupting the energy optimization sector using variable speed drives, by offering it as a service. Through its journey, it has built a strong team with high passion and competence but lacked diversity in various facets. With the significant growth potential the energy sector, with Industrials under pressure for operational cost reduction and achievement of sustainability targets, Energy Drive realized the value that diversity would yield positive results for its operations and that of its clients.

Organizations that prioritize diversity and inclusion can gain a competitive advantage by tapping into the unique strengths and perspectives of a diverse workforce, improving decision-making, enhancing their reputation, and creating a more engaged and committed workforce.

James and his team adopted a strategy to invest in resource growth leveraging the promises of a diverse workforce. This is being achieved through the development of an internal Graduate programme, and recruitment of women engineers and technicians.

The business has recently expanded its offering into the UK and Europe and is commencing operations in the coming year in North America. This has only been achievable through the commitment and passion of the people of Energy Drive. One of our core values is “People-Centred”, and it is this value that resonates with AWEaP’s vision.

James Hynd, the CEO of Energy Drive, set out to find a partner to assist and support in this journey, and specifically to build a culture of Transformation within the People of Energy Drive. Having seen the very specific focus of AWEaP on LinkedIn, he reached out to Ms Bertha Dlamini, and after a couple of initial calls, it was obvious to James that African Women in Energy and Power (AWEaP), led by Ms Dlamini, was the perfect partner for both him and the business in this journey. The result has been a team that is committed and more importantly passionate about Transformation in all facets, and invested in the development both directly and indireclty through AWEaP of African female entrepreneurs in the Energy sector.

Energy Drive is set to leverage the gains of allyship and collaboration across various markets. James said: “We express our gratitude for everything Ms Dlamini and her team have achieved, and specifically the strength of character in highlighting and taking ownership of transformation in this sector. One of our goals is the deployment of these wonderful skills over time globally, as we expand and have greater resource requirements”

About Energy Drive and James Hynd

James Hynd is an astute executive with 23 years of experience in the Sub-Saharan packaging industry. He has worked for the largest players globally. In the past 4 years, he has devoted his expertise to advancing an innovative Energy as a Service “EaaS” model. The model delivers guaranteed energy and carbon reduction through a long-term service model.

James has a passion for growth, realized through a highly engaged TEAM, with an absolute belief in South African businesses’ ability to deliver excellent service on the world stage. A key ingredient for this is the constant focus on transformation across the board, and it’s that focus that brought James and Bertha together.”