“I consider myself fortunate to have such a robust support system and am committed to helping break down any bias within Schneider or the industry,” affirms Oinger, Vice President and Partner in Sustainability, Schneider Electric.
Globally, women are underrepresented in STEM fields, They make up only 28% of the workforce. Gender gaps are particularly high in some of the fastest-growing and highest-paid jobs of the future such as engineering and sustainability.
Schneider Electric aims to highlight the positive contribution of women to the world of energy. Recently, Schneider joined the Global Women’s Foundation to advance the role of women in the energy sector. The company continues to challenge gender stereotypes and inequality to promote a gender-balanced workplace and #BreakTheBias.
In this edition of Brake the barriersAditi Sharma Kalra talks to Juliana Owinger, Vice President and Sustainability Business Partner, Schneider Electricwhich speaks of Schneider’s commitment to women’s empowerment and diversity, in the form of regional initiatives that support gender equality, equity and inclusion.
s Tell us about your role. What prompted you to join this role and join the energy sector?
I am Partner and Vice President of Sustainability Business at Schneider Electric in the Asia Pacific region. Our team’s mission is to bring together all of Schneider’s business to provide unprecedented, comprehensive support to our customers in achieving their sustainable transformations – from formulating climate strategies (such as creating carbon-neutral roadmaps, structuring decarbonization programmes) to implementing and deploying sustainability solutions (such as monitoring resources and emissions, identifying savings and electrifying operations, replacement of energy sources, etc.)
It is an exciting and meaningful time to be in the energy sector, especially with the urgent call to address the current climate crisis.
So, when the opportunity came up with Schneider, it attracted me. Schneider’s drive to decarbonize its own business and mission to advance corporate climate action aligns with my passion and knowledge in consulting and a belief that companies can make a positive difference for our planet.
s What do you think it means to break the bias in the energy sector? What step are you taking in your personal life towards this?
I have spent many years in traditionally male-dominated fields. From engineering to management consulting, and even when I was studying at university. Despite the low female representation, I never saw myself competing on the basis of gender. In my opinion, it has always been about abilities and intelligence versus gender. And I think that was an important mindset to have especially when there was no statistically level playing field. I think this is the first step.
With the right support structure and mentors who believed in me and became advocates for my business, I became a successful business leader. Not only that, I’m also a working mom and wife and I don’t have to compromise on these three roles. I consider myself fortunate to have such a strong support system and am committed to helping break down any bias within Schneider or the industry. At Schneider, I aim to be a role model and mentor for talented young women who will one day become great business leaders. It is up to us to shape it and inculcate values of equality in it from the start.
Schneider has recently gained momentum and progressed the journey of diversity, equity and inclusion with a strong commitment from our leadership. At Schneider, our Executive Committee is made up of 44% women. Our Global Pay Equity Framework identifies gender pay gaps within similar groups of employees and ensures greater consistency, fairness, and transparency. Schneider is committed to reaching less than a 1% wage gap between women and men by 2025.
For the fifth year in a row, Schneider Electric joined Bloomberg Gender Equality Index 2022 (GEI)which measures gender equality across five pillars: female leadership and talent streak, equal pay and gender pay parity, inclusive culture, anti-sexual harassment policies, and a pro-women brand.
s What drives you? Are there any personal beliefs and people you draw strength from?
As trite as it may sound, my mother is my greatest role model and my source of strength. Growing up, I watched her wear many hats.
From being a mother of two, to a woman who chose to pursue her dreams as an entrepreneur at a time when it wasn’t that common. She was smart, brave, brave, and most importantly, she dared to dream. Despite her successes, she has always been modest and treats people with honesty and kindness. Me too, I try to live by such high standards especially for my team and those around me.
My daughters are also my biggest source of motivation and inspiration. They push me to work harder and use my voice as an industry leader to drive change. We need to act and implement solutions to fix our planet now so that our future generations have a land that can be called home. I am very grateful to be in a position at Schneider where I can contribute my skills to press for progress when it comes to actions that world leaders are taking to address climate urgency.
s On the professional front – I got Schneider lately Join the International Women’s Foundation To enhance the role of women in the energy sector. Tell us more about this What is your role in this, and what are the most important two to three challenges you aim to address/address in your role?
Schneider Electric has joined forces with the World Women’s Watch to inspire future generations of women to work in the energy field. In partnership with the Global Women’s Foundation, we aim to highlight the positive contribution that women make in the world of energy and in the STEM sector. During the World Woman Hour online event on March 8, Schneider joined a panel of women energy leaders to encourage the next generation of “leaders” to lead a thriving economy, a sustainable planet and a healthier world to achieve the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).
Personally, I believe that we should inculcate gender equality from a young age. Education, both in school and at home, plays a large role in shaping an individual’s perspective and contributing to the sustainable achievement of gender equality. Hidden gender bias in school curricula and the socialization of gender roles leads to inequitable education for girls and boys. I experienced this firsthand when I chose to take design and technology as a subject in high school. My professors gave more support and attention to male students, assuming female students were less likely to excel in the subject. Boys and girls should feel welcome to explore traditionally male/female dominated topics in a safe and secure learning environment. I firmly believe that females should receive honest training in whatever field they choose to pursue.
Returning to the workplace context, companies must have clear policies on gender pay equity and high-quality skills training programs to advance both male and female employees. Top management must continue to acknowledge gender inequality in the workplace and avoid unconscious bias. Women leaders also play a critical role in gender parity, and we should evaluate performance on accomplishments and potential, make sure female colleagues receive the recognition they deserve, and look for opportunities to publicly recognize their accomplishments.
s Looking at STEM as a Whole – According to data from the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (2019)Globally, women only make up less than 30% of the STEM workforce. As a woman in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), how do you aim to raise awareness and advocate for progress, and where do you expect to see it in the next five to seven years?
Many women in STEM careers don’t feel like they have mentors to ask questions, learn more about their career path, or get some guidance when they feel lost. There are many female first-generation college students who do not have family members in the industry, or know anyone in a position they would like to pursue. So I think it’s very important for us to provide a mentorship support system for young women who are currently or intend to pursue a career in STEM fields.
In Asia, the Schneider Energy Access and Entrepreneurship Training Program aims to develop skills in the electricity trade and support women entrepreneurs to promote sustainable and inclusive local development. We have established centers of excellence in Indonesia focusing on electricity, automation, and renewable energy for professional teachers and lab technicians with a total target of 240 teachers trained and 10,800 students graduating over the next five years.
In 2020, 7,804 young unemployed people, of whom 665 were women, received vocational training in the electrical field through Schneider Electric in India. A total of 7,000 women entrepreneurs have also received entrepreneurship support in Mali, Senegal and Niger through the Schneider Electric and Plan International partnership.
In this series of interviews titled Brake the barriersAnd the HRO He talks to world-leading women who have refined their paths and made a mark in their chosen careers, doing what they love best – living their passion and uplifting others to move forward faster. Read all we have Barrier Breaking Interviews Here.
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