Advancing towards Gender Equality

In 1997, when we set our first global diversity goals, just 4% of our senior leadership were women. Today we're working to reach or exceed 40% women in senior leadership by 2030, and to then make progress towards gender balance. Shell has come a long way when it comes to representation of women, but we must do more. We have an ongoing focus on attracting and developing women because they continue to be under-represented in parts of our organisation. You can read more about our DE&I data here.

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Gender equality encompasses so much more than metrics and data; it’s about culture and opportunity. It requires us to acknowledge real and perceived barriers, from multiple angles, and to systematically remove them. Here are some of the things we’re doing at Shell:

A strategy shaped by our people

It’s crucial that our action plans are shaped by the voices and experiences at Shell. Like many companies, Shell has focussed on the importance of gender equality for decades. Our focus is on taking practical action to break down the barriers to true gender equality, wherever our female colleagues may be located – recognising that countries are in different places in terms of gender progress. 

  • Our global forum, Shell Global Allies for Gender Equity (“enGAGE”), was created in 2021 and is a safe space that brings the voices from our gender focused employee resource groups together across the globe to share and leverage ideas, and acts as a valuable resource for each other as well as senior leadership. It focuses on global allyship to increase awareness of gender imbalance and also provides development, mentoring, and networking opportunities to strengthen Shell’s talent pipeline.
  • Employee Resource Groups: The role of staff in shaping our strategy extends to country level. We support and sponsor over 30 employee resource groups focussed on gender. We value our employee resource groups and nurture their development as part of our strategy for employee engagement and maintaining an inclusive workplace.

To learn more about our strategy, read our DE&I ambitions and progress and our Pillars and Goals and Guiding Principles.


Executive sponsors driving progress

Recognising the importance of senior executive sponsorship to drive progress, all our Executive Committee who report directly into our CEO, sponsor gender progress. 

The power of staff stories

By creating safe spaces to share and listen to each other’s experiences, we can learn more about what each of us can do differently to make someone else’s experience better. By doing so, we can all contribute to a more inclusive world. Many Shell colleagues around the world continue to courageously share their inspiring stories, which has created a deeper level of empathy among staff to reflect on and become stronger active allies. Here are some of our inspiring stories:

A role for everyone

Whilst countries may be at different places in their DE&I journeys, no-one has grown up in a world free from bias. That’s why annual DE&I training is mandatory for everyone at Shell. The training helps ensure colleagues know what’s expected of them, it gives them tools to use every day and guidance on being an ally and intervening in the moment. Whilst it’s only one part of building an inclusive culture, it is an essential one when combined with our other actions to drive meaningful change.

Talent acceleration and leadership programmes, mentoring and sponsorship

Across the world, we recognise that certain groups in society can experience additional challenges or barriers to access education, development or training opportunities as others. We offer accelerated development programmes to women to help level the playing field, such as Powering Women Mid-Career and our soon-to-be-launched revamped Powering Women. In addition, our leadership programmes embed the importance of inclusive leadership, care and empathy among upcoming leaders. We also offer various mentoring, reverse mentoring and sponsorship programmes. One day we hope we won’t need to do this, but until the playing field is level, we’ll keep exploring ways to overcome the practical barriers that different groups may face.

Flexible working in Shell

In Shell, we want individuals and teams to perform at their best. A key part of that is being able to balance your work and personal life, which has never been more important. We have improved our flexible working options to better meet business and people’s changing needs. Our offices will remain essential and continue to have a purpose in community building, driving business performance by fostering affiliation and collaboration and ensuring that employees feel welcomed and valued as they navigate the future.

At the end of 2021, we launched a global “Future of Work” guide to give employees and teams guidance and greater choice in determining together how, when and where they work. Recognizing that in addition to the office there can be a variety of workplaces. The guide combines the lessons, opportunities and trends we learned during the pandemic, enabled by technology, health & wellbeing and inclusive leadership. We’ll continue to learn and evolve the guidance as we continue on our journey.


Fair pay

Pay is an important part of working life. We offer fair and competitive pay so that all our employees are valued, respected and recognised for the work that they do. Our Fair Pay Principles help you understand how our pay is competitive, free from bias, and provides security.

Global minimum standard for maternity leave

To improve attraction and retention of women, since 2018 we have offered a global minimum standard of 16 weeks paid maternity leave, enabling new mothers to put their families first and spend more time with their newborns. This is a minimum standard, and various countries offer longer maternity leave.

Voluntary Self-Identification (Self-ID)

By better understanding who we are, we can work towards where we want to be. We currently collect gender data globally. In 2022 we started to roll out self-ID for employees in our HR system, which will include an option to voluntarily declare gender identity where relevant and legal. This will allow us to better track our progress with increased data insights, better understand different groups’ experiences, identify strengths that we can continue to build on, and identify opportunities for improvement.

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Driving inclusion in our communities

Shell is active in external organisations and activities that advance gender equality. We pledge our support to external commitments and ambitions because it increases transparency on what we stand for; we benefit from access to good practice with fellow advocates to inform where we can do more; and because our support, as a large and visible global company, can act as a catalyst for others to follow.

In 2018 Shell endorsed the Catalyst CEO Champions for change initiative, which saw 70+ CEOs coming together to accelerate and advance women, particularly women from ethnic minorities, to close the gender gap in the oil and gas sector, with a focus on senior leadership and board positions. We have also signed the World Economic Forum declaration on closing the gender gap in the oil and gas sector.

Supporting the STEM pipeline

Engineering is critical to Shell’s success. Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) careers have struggled for decades to attract more women. We support STEM programmes in more than 20 countries and our flagship programme, NXplorers, is active in schools across 20 countries. In 2021 more than 60,000 students took part. We continue to focus on attracting and developing women, especially in STEM and leadership roles, and eliminating barriers to participation and progression.

Working with others

  • Catalyst CEO Champions

    Catalyst CEO Champions

    Shell has endorsed the Catalyst CEO Champions for change initiative, which aims to speed up progress towards gender equality in companies.

    Visit the Catalyst CEO Champions

Read more about DE&I at Shell

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

At Shell, we are working to become one of the most diverse, equitable and inclusive organizations' in the world, a place where everyone feels valued and respected and has a strong sense of belonging.

Disability Inclusion and enABLEment

Shell is a place where people with disabilities can excel.

Race & Ethnicity

We are working to address racial inequity and create an inclusive work environment where everyone feels valued.


We are working to advance LGBT+ inclusion within Shell and the communities where we work.

Our DE&I awards and recognition

Celebrating our progress as we work to make Shell one of the most diverse and inclusive companies in the world.

Employee Resource Groups

Employee Resource Groups are a place to collaborate, support each other, celebrate successes and work with others to drive Shell's DE&I strategy.

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