“Inclusion is the solution.”
If you read nothing else from this article, John Pynakker, Talent and Branding Advisor at Powerlink, hopes this is what you take away.
But really, we hope you stick around a bit longer, as he had so much more to share about the power of diversity and inclusion in the energy industry, allyship, and how these values are lived at Powerlink.
In his current role, John is responsible for promoting Powerlink as an employer of choice, developing strategies to attract a diverse talent market, and establishing partnerships with schools to increase awareness and interest for people to build a career in the energy industry.
“If we can embrace one another’s differences and create a safe place for each of us to exist as our authentic, loving selves, then people of all genders will be better off.”
What role can allies play in the energy industry?
While John is a passionate diversity and inclusion advocate, he still considers himself a student in advocating for gender equality.
“Establishing my career in recruitment, I’ve been lucky to have had many amazing women around me my whole working life who’ve always been willing to share their expertise and mentorship. On this personal journey – I’ve always seen value in people as individuals.
“However, in the past few years I have personally focused on researching ways to support equality and ‘un-learning’ the concepts and behaviors that uphold inequality but are ingrained in our culture as a society.”
Taking a proactive approach has enabled him to make progress.
“The more focus I’ve dedicated to listening to diverse perspectives and educating myself about the experiences and challenges of women, the more I’ve felt responsible about being proactive. I’ve also noticed that much of the heavy lifting towards equality is being done by women, so I’d like to contribute to changing that.”
How does diversity and inclusion relate to innovation?
John shares Powerlink’s perspective about how diversity and inclusion strengthen organizational resilience and innovation.
“At Powerlink, we believe that innovation isn’t just about focusing on one or two main ideas, it’s having 100 good ideas. Diversity and inclusion are key to creating an innovative culture where ideas can take seed and flourish.”
As such, he says any business that invests in people and their development has the best chance of achieving its purpose. For Powerlink, that’s connecting Queenslanders to a world-class energy future.
“I can contribute to diversity and inclusion in my role by seeking diverse perspectives throughout our organization, identifying systemic barriers to inclusion for marginalized groups, and working towards removing them.”
How can leaders in energy support diverse groups to succeed?
There’s a range of ways leaders can take to drive cultural and systemic improvements in removing barriers for women, gender-diverse people, and other marginalized groups. Powerlink, for example, actively encourages young women to pursue further education in STEMM fields and electrical trades.
“We’re currently focused on attracting women in tertiary engineering courses, to create more gender-balanced cohorts for our undergrad vacation and graduate programs. Our recruitment team is focused on attracting more women applicants and implementing inclusive recruitment process to reduce bias.”
John’s talent team also works closely with Powerlink’s organizational development department, to improve policies and benefits that support gender equality and greater inclusion.
“We’ve established targets for women in leadership, are promoting development opportunities, and changing our processes to remove systemic barriers and improve accessibility. We’re also providing training for our hiring leaders and selection panel members to reduce bias.”
Overall, the business is committed to highlighting the value of each individual’s skills, capabilities, and perspectives, and ingraining diversity and inclusion in every part of the candidate and employee experience.
What makes a company a great place to work?
For John, it’s all about people, purpose, and passion.
“Here, we all share a common purpose – transforming the energy industry. I love coming to work, knowing I can have a positive impact on the future generation of Queenslanders. We also have fantastic people, great authentic leaders, and a broad range of benefits.”
Benefits like flexible work arrangements and mental health and well-being support enable John, as a husband and father, to achieve a good balance – spending time with his family, playing soccer with the kids, and catching up with friends, family, and colleagues.
He also enjoys seeing how Powerlink’s career development opportunities help people grow and develop their careers.
“I love that in my role I get to develop strategies, work towards clear goals, and bring together intersectional elements of diversity and inclusion. That includes engaging schools and universities and developing our Inclusion@Powerlink Program – which will evolve and be delivered over the next three years.”
What about Employee Resource Groups (ERGs)?
As a passionate male ally and advocate, John is also a member of Powerlink’s ERG Gender Diversity in Energy Community of Practice (COP).
“I joined this COP at its inception last year. I volunteered and became the new co-chair. We take a holistic approach to gender equality at Powerlink by supporting gender-equality initiatives at a grassroots level.”
Powerlink recently launched its COP publicly, delivering its first event on International Women’s Day this year.
“Almost 300 Powerlink employees come together in person and online to engage in conversations about what each of us can do to contribute to a gender-equal future.”
Is diversity and inclusion a zero-sum game?
As many people (and researchers) share, the answer is an unequivocal: “No!”
As John believes, including women doesn’t equate to men being disadvantaged.
“The research is clear. Just as data demonstrates inequality disproportionately impacts women in education, employment, and remuneration, there’s also data to show how it negatively impacts men too. Inequality, truly, doesn’t serve any of us.”
However, in his view, the feeling of men being disadvantaged is more deep-rooted than some people simply being individualistic or egocentric.
“I think it can be passed down from conditioning in our patriarchal society. Including views that negatively impact equality in the workplace, as well as at home and in relationships.”
His final thoughts?
“The way I see it,” says John, “we, as humans, are interconnected regardless of gender. If you view humanity as a collective, it’s not as simple as win-lose. If any are being excluded, then no one is winning. We need all genders contributing in equal partnership for our society to function in a way that benefits all of us”.