Energy has traditionally been a homogenous sector, lacking the diversity of wider society. The R&D People and Culture Strategy report (2021) identified that for the UK to build its position as a global leader in Research and Development, there is a need for at least an additional 150,000 people in the R&D workforce by 2030. Expanding the talent pool to add a wider range of people from various backgrounds to the sector is seen to present an opportunity for creativity, learning and growth.

From the outset, ethnic minorities appear to be relatively well represented in the energy sector with 13% Asian and 2% Black employees forming part of the workforce (Energy Systems Catapult, 2020). However, emerging evidence suggests that some groups fare better than others. Individuals’ multiple social identities (race, class, religion and gender) intersect in complex ways to influence their experiences, however little is known about intersectionality in energy careers. Indeed, the lack of attention to intersectionality is thought to have led to ineffective, ‘one-size fits all’ solutions (Supergen, 2021).

This project will examine intersectionality in ethnic minority individuals’ experiences at two key transition points, early and mid-career, in both industry and academia.


By adopting an intersectional approach centred around one-to-one, in-depth qualitative interviews with 40 energy professionals at different stages of their career within academia and industry, the project will provide a first-hand understanding of how ethnicity intersects with gender, social class, nationality and/or career stage in Ethnic Minority Energy Professionals (EMEP) accounts of:

  • Career aspirations
  • Career constraints
  • Strategies adopted to ‘progress a career’ within perceived constraints
  • Forms of support/help seen as useful to progress a career (including existing Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) interventions) and the extent to which these are available


The key anticipated outputs are:

  • Digital manual on ‘EMEP’ career stories for early careerists and line managers.
  • A guideline for line managers on how to consider intersectionality in ethnic minority careers.
  • A graphic art installation on ‘diversity in EMEP’. This will be exhibited to the general public through an array of means.
  • A policy brief for the All-Party Parliamentary Group (a high-level UK discussion forum on energy issues) on the barriers to ethnic minority individuals’ career progression in the energy sector and recommendations on how to improve outcomes.

How findings will be used

The findings will be used to improve the knowledge base of organisations and individuals that work with EMEP, urging them to move away from ‘one size fits all’ solutions and tailor their approaches to resonate with people’s distinctive experiences. This will be achieved by promoting the manual of career stories and guidelines to research teams at universities, our partners and relevant networks. The findings of this project also aim to influence policymakers to adopt an intersectional approach and contribute towards increasing the general public’s awareness of issues related to career progression of ethnic minorities.