Click here and check out the fourth episode of podcast #DeixaElaTeInspirar, featuring Laura Porto, Renewables Officer at Neoenergia
A professional recognized in the electric energy industry and ahead of the main investments of Neoenergia in the country, the Renewables Officer of the company, Laura Porto, was the fourth interviewee in the series of podcasts #DeixaElaTeInspirar. The program is held by Neoenergia, via its institute, in order to tell personal and professional journeys of women - the new episode is available on Spotify. For the executive, diversity in companies is a factor to stimulate disruptive solutions, necessary in the environment of energy transition.
“Clean and renewable energy, for me, is the natural way of sustainable development, as much as inserting women in an equal way on all sectors of society. I believe we need to think globally", states Laura Porto to the chief executive officer of Instituto Neoenergia, Renata Chagas.
Read below the highlights of this interview:
Renata Chagas - You lead strategic projects in energy generatioln in the country, has a relevant role in the energy sector, are a member of the Brazilian Wind Power Association Management Board (ABEEólica). Who is Laura Porto aside from the person responsible for the expansion of clean energy at Neoenergia?
Laura Porto - Above all I am a very simple and down-to-earth person, always interested in issues that affect society. A person that is absolutely connected with the present and, of course, always concerned about the future: renewable energy, universalization of services and electric energy, a growth strategy with income distribution. I believe renewable energies, especially with wind and solar farms, in land leases, lead to growth and income distribution. I am very concerned with a sustainable world. In my daily routine I try to connect to what really matters in life, which are affections and experiences that we take with us, always prioritizing the contact with nature and working at a company which I believe in.
Renata Chagas - With your experience in the energy industry, what is your view on gender equality in the area? Do you think that companies have invested in expanding opportunities for women?
Laura Porto - There has been a positive movement regarding gender equality in organizations and at Neoenergia we have a lot of female representatives in various job positions and organizational levels. There are well-structured initiatives, such as the Electricians' School for women, but even before that we have kept a watchful eye on the benefits which diversity brings through gender equality, but also cultura, regional and age aspects. We are a diverse company, operating in many regions of the country, promoting the wealth of mixtures we have in Brazil. I believe that not settling regarding the advances we have already reached and remaining attentive and vigilant regarding these issues is very important, as it greatly aggregates to the organization. After all, we talked a lot about energy transition, and to be in such a scenario and a vastly competitive environment requires more innovative solutions for businesses and environments. I am certain that diversity drives disruptive and inclusive solutions, important for growth in an increasingly sustainable manner.
Renata Chagas - Renewable energy have a larger female participation than other sources. According to a research of the International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena), the proportion of women in renewable energy is 32%, as compared to 22% in oil and gas. In your opinion, why does this happen? Do you think renewable energy has more opportunities for women?
Laura Porto - This is an active movement, which must be constantly encouraged, we have to be always alert. Structurally, technical and leadership positions in the energy industry, regardless of being revewable or not, were occupied by men - and mostly still are. Renewable energy has better numbers in particular because it requires more innovation in order to compete with traditional well-established energies. I believe companies have been much more aware, have anticipated trends and modernized, not only in business models, but also in culture: hiring professionals that are free thinkers, multifaceted, open to change, that question the old models and propose creative solutions. This is a very competitive world, which most certainly requires creativity. In this new drastically different scenario, women have had particular prominence, fitting in this universe of changes because they feel as agents of this transformation; they are taking part. The Renewables office has a very expressive feminine presence, including on leadership.
Renata Chagas - What are the main challenges of the energy industry regarding the gender diversity agenda and how can they be overcome?
Laura Porto - There were years and years of biased education, where the woman's role have always been closely connected to non-technical activities, considered male activities. For example: I graduated with two women in my class, and that lasted for many years. Now there are more women, and I believe that it used to be a legacy of companies, which have been structuring themselves, seeking out a new culture and arrives at the cutting edge, at the university, technical schools, the importance of having women in the electric energy industry. But it's a long-term work, that takes time and is structuring. You can't change an entire culture overnight. I can see that we are undergoing a period of transition, not only energy-wise, but also mindset-wise. The number has increased, and this has also accelerated the energy transition process. The concept of diversity is also connected to the idea of balance. A diverse team has similar numbers of young and senior professionals, of various sexual orientations, disabled people, black men and women. This is diversity for me, I believe this is the way to go, and Neoenergia is certainly watching out for that.
Renata Chagas - Both Gender Equality and provision of clean energy are Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) defined in the 2030 Agenda of the UN. Do you think these goals are interconnected in any way?
Laura Porto – Absolutely. Both promote changes in thinking and questioning of old models that led the world to a very complicated existence. Well-known SDGs are major achievements, because they drive us toward a fairer, more sustainable, accessible and more equal society. This is our fight, there is no ignoring any of these causes anymore. Clean and renewable energy, for me, is the natural way of sustainable development, as much as inserting women in an equal way on all sectors of society. I believe we need to think globally, in order to reach balance at a solid pace.
Renata Chagas - What is the work environment of the Renewables Office at Neoenergia and how have you worked as an internal entrepreneur, being an entrepreneur inside the organization to expand gender equality?
Laura Porto - Fortunately, the situation of the Renewables Office is very positive in this sense. Here, the presence of women in leadership positions is common. I believe we can still improve, and we're on it, among field technicians, which I still consider a barrier for expanding the female workforce. This is why we are working in association with the Electricians' School and technical schools, to qualify female professionals, including for leadership positions, to become managers in farms, in operation and maintenance departments. As an internal entrepreneur, what I do is try to spread that diversity philosophy to collaborators that are close to me. I try to pass down information particularly to the leaders, as they, due to capillarity, pass along my perception on high performance teams and how is this related to the concept of diversity. I don't really believe in any other way and, to be honest, I think it has been working. I am proud to lead a team with so many women ahead of so many diverse and very competitive teams.
Renata Chagas - You have a prominent role not only at Neoenergia, but at the energy industry. What is your view on the importance of female protagonism in these spaces?
Laura Porto - Representation matters. It is crucial to have women spearheading important choices and strategies. On one hand, to inspire more women and show that there is space and, on the other hand, to normalize gender representation in markets that may still be stuck with old male-centered standards. I feel my presence in these spaces sends a very clear message that we can fill such positions of leadership in any area. I speak about my example because the question is directed at me, but I am extremely grateful that I am not the sole female officer of Neoenergia; there are two more. This sends a very powerful message, and such powerful messages may drastically change the future of a company for much better.
Renata Chagas - The world is going through a moment in which the demand for clean energy is ever higher for decarbonization of the economy. In your opinion, within this context, what is going to be the role of women in expanding clean sources and fighting climate changes?
Laura Porto - I think that female strength shall bring more value in this and other aspects of sustainable development. Fighting climate change is an increasingly urgent issue and in society as a whole. We start building our future now. We are here and now, so let us make all the changes we want.