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Thinking globally requires local & regional mindset

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By Lamé Verre

· 4 min read

The last few decades have seen global businesses try and fail to break into international markets. While these attempts have been varied, the crucial failing has been characterized by a common thread. These businesses often approached global expansion from a viewpoint that assumed that what is true of North America and Western Europe is true globally. This resulted in an oversight of cultural, social, ethnic and religious nuances present in the communities where they aimed to succeed.

The events of the last few years have buttressed the importance and feasibility of leveraging regional-focused approaches to responding to problems. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, countries across the world closed their borders, and many were forced to look inward for solutions to problems and innovate around resources they once outsourced. The U.S., for example, became more aware of its reliance on China and India for pharmaceuticals, which led many to call for the reshoring and in-sourcing of supply chains.

This approach is practical and culturally beneficial; it ensures that solutions to issues are applicable and relevant to each area. Furthermore, it is also worth noting that organizations that lead global projects from the top down require a handful of people to tune in with hundreds of different groups’ cultural and religious nuances. Projects built from the ground up cut out this work, dealing with local issues at the source and allowing a community to ensure a project represents their group before it is brought into international dialogue.

Against this backdrop, the energy industry has seen many organizations putting localization at the top of their talent management and succession planning agenda by filling top positions with homegrown talents. Two years ago, Shell appointed Elohor Aiboni as M.D. for Shell Nigeria. Tullow appointed Cynthia Lumor, Deputy MD, Tullow Ghana, and Aker appointed Kadijah Amoah as Country Director of Aker Energy Ghana.

The regional approach at Lean In Equity & Sustainability (LiNES) is designed to suit this need for a locally focused and nuanced approach in the energy sector. Our subdivisions allow LiNES to build from the ground up, bringing the talents and struggles of different communities to the global stage in a self-defined and relevant manner. Our regional approach reflects our desire to ensure that our conversations regarding diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging are adequately nuanced.

When discussing female empowerment within the energy sector, for example, we do so from an inclusive viewpoint rather than any stereotypical lens. There is great potential for the energy industry to play a prominent role in the fight for global equality because the sector is heavily linked to enabling national security, food security, access to clean water, resources and agricultural productivity. Therefore, getting women into leadership roles within the energy industry not only corrects the gender imbalance in a corporate context but also provides an opportunity for these women to alleviate the struggles of others, men and women alike, at a fundamental level.

However, the success of this knock-on effect requires men and women who occupy these leadership positions to be sensitive to diverse experiences, see the importance of regional representation and become allies to others who may not look like them.

Accordingly, our work at LIEN operates and empowers members to act in a manner that allows every community to self-represent. The result is an international movement toward gender equality within the energy sector, formed from effective localized and regional action rather than a homogenous top-down system that could misrepresent many of the regions it aims to represent.

While there is a place for globalization, implementation of diversity, equity and inclusion efforts should be tailored to fit the part of the world in which companies operate.

The article is also published in the Transition Economist. Future Thought Leaders is a democratic space presenting the thoughts and opinions of rising Sustainability & Energy writers, their opinions do not necessarily represent those of illuminem.

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About the author

Lamé Verre is a Fellow of the Energy Institute and the Co-founder and Chair of the Advisory Board | Lean in Equity & Sustainability. She also sits on the Global Future Council - The Future of the Energy Transition at the World Economic Forum

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