Shell - champion of gender equality

Shell is a global group of energy and petrochemical companies, operating in more than 140 countries and territories, employing more than 109,000 people. The aim of the Shell Group is to meet the energy needs of society, in ways that are economically, socially and environmentally viable, now and in the future.


Shell has built its business on a clear commitment to acting with integrity. Shell’s core values of honesty, integrity and respect for people are central to operations worldwide. They have formed the basis of Shell’s General Business Principles for 30 years and remain as important as ever.  Shell employs a most diverse group of people, and values the benefits this brings. It respects the human rights of its employees and strives to provide them with safe working conditions, promote the development of their talents and give them channels to report concerns.  Shell sees a diverse staff and inclusive work environment as vital to building relationships with employees, customers, suppliers, partners, governments and other stakeholders. No one type of person, or group of people, has all the skills and talents needed. Increased diversity is not just a good thing; it is rapidly becoming a key competitive factor.
Shell’s Chief Executive Officer, Jeroen van der Veer, may say it best. “By integrating diversity and inclusiveness into the mainstream of the business, we can translate our core values of honesty, integrity and respect for people into action, and improve global performance.”
Success in action
The Shell Group has a stated aspiration to achieve at least 20 per cent of senior positions filled by women globally.  Women are now achieving very senior levels in the company but Shell wants to make faster progress. In 2005, a study into the retention and career progression of women in the UK and in the Netherlands concluded that the time had come to identify areas for improvement, find where the greatest urgency lies and where the greatest impact can be made.
More than 1200 women and men took part in the Progression and Retention study by responding to an e-survey questionnaire and taking part in interviews.    Additional information came from other studies within Shell, and from external research.
The two sets of agreed actions emerging from the study were practical and constructive.  Some recommendations were specific 2006 interventions designed to accelerate change.  Others represent good talent management practices and will be integrated over time.  Together they embody a holistic approach targeting barriers to progression at multiple levels.  Collectively and applied consistently, Shell believes that they will be a catalyst for accelerated improvement.  Shell’s senior management is committed to this implementation, and looks forward to ongoing dialogue and feedback that will enable them to spur further progress in this area.
The agreed recommendations from the study into the progression and retention of women will have a positive impact on the organisation in a number of ways;
  • Improve inclusiveness, increase gender difference awareness and reduce stereotyping
  • Accelerate filling the talent pipeline
  • Ensure a fair and safe work environment Support women’s development
  • Improve work flexibility and become more “family friendly”
  • Improve consistency of leader accountability and visibility
As early as 1997, diversity had been identified as a critical business issue, which has significant impact on Shell’s reputation and competitive position, and since that time several key steps have been taken to make this commitment of day-to-day operations.  There has been much external recognition of Shell’s actions around Diversity and Inclusiveness, including the following;
  • Shell was a finalist for the 2006 Private Sector Award by Opportunity Now, the UK’s most prestigious awards for workplace gender equality and diversity.
  • In 2006, The European Commission published a report titled, “Business Case for Diversity – Good Practices in the Workplace” in which Shell was one of the featured organisations.
  • Shell received recognition from The Times and Aurora in 2006.  Shell has been named among the top 50 employers of women in a new listing based on initiatives and achievements across 10 key areas relevant to recruiting, retaining and developing female talent.