Mike Adams, Co-founder of Norwell EDGE, explores Toxic Masculinity in the Oil and Gas industry for the AXIS Network’s Men As Change Agents series.
Masculinity. One of the most talked about words of the past two years, and one that is sure to split opinions.
The concept of masculinity, and specifically the toxic kind, makes many men and women uncomfortable. It has connotations of aggression, competition and the harmful effects these traits can have on society.
While I would not deny sex-linked characteristics, the concept of masculinity in 2019 should not be a pressure on men, nor need it define specific traits.
I strongly feel we need to move away from masculinity being a single defined characteristic, and accept that it takes on a wide range of forms – all of which should be celebrated.
But how do we get this message across, especially in an industry seen as one of the most masculine out there?
Thankfully this way of thinking about masculinity is something widely accepted in the younger segments of the workforce. Even if they don’t see the action being taken, they are out there carrying the flag and championing the importance of this issue.
And we must take advantage of that. Instead of waiting for the younger generation to bring the culture change with them as they mature, we must look to the younger generation now as where the industry needs to aim.
This approach has significant advantages. Many of the things our industry is grappling with, from culture to digitisation, are issues championed by and solved by my peers – those under 35.
If given the platform, the opportunities and seats at the table, this segment of the workforce can bring with it the culture change that needs to take place.
We need to evolve as an industry, and while this is starting to happen, the change around culture has to be significant if we are going to continue to attract new graduates in the future.
Young people want to see their values reflected in the industry they go into, and there are some big steps to take for Oil & Gas to get there. To take those steps, and to take them quickly, I say we give a more substantive voice to young professionals. Open up positions on corporate boards, and from policy making to managing innovation hubs, bring younger voices to senior industry positions.
This is unfortunately not an industry that has a surplus of good will in the eyes of the public, policy makers or aspiring young grads. Views around masculinity, and it’s dominance in our industry, is an important topic to address if we are to change the wider industry culture and stay competitive over the next decade.
This is one of a number of challenges we face. But by looking to younger generations, promoting them, supporting them, adopting their ideas and vision for the industry – we can start to take some big steps forward.
Mike Adams, Co-founder of Norwell EDGE and winner of the Young Professional 2019 award at the SPE Offshore Achievement Awards.