Three factors explain our year-on-year results:

  1. Our focus on helping all employees fulfil their potential – our continued management of talented individuals and the modernisation of our policies contributes to a more inclusive culture, and shapes how we support employees to manage and develop their careers. This has led to an increase in the number of women in senior positions throughout the organisation.
  2. Adopting a global approach to developing talent – for many years, Shell in the UK has transferred talented UK employees around the world, and colleagues from overseas have come to the UK to develop their careers. These moves, at both junior and senior levels of the organisation, influence our year-on-year results.
  3. In previous years, organisational change has impacted our gender pay gap results – whilst this has not impacted our gender pay gap this year, we acknowledge that it may be a driver in the years ahead. We also recognise that whilst we are making progress in building an inclusive and diverse workplace, we are not yet where we need to be and remain committed to driving an inclusive culture during times of transformational change.

Explaining our gap

We continue to make progress towards gender balance. However, we still have a gender pay gap.

For decades, our industry has employed significantly more men than women. Many of our employees stay with Shell in the UK for long and fulfilling careers that span a variety of roles – something we are proud of. But low levels of turnover means that change will take time. We are encouraged by the positive movement of our gender pay gap, but remain committed to increasing the number of women across Shell in the UK to drive the pace of change. We are improving our policies and practices in the UK, and are taking a targeted recruitment and development approach in the business areas where we face the greatest challenges.

Senior positions

Increase in the proportion of women in senior UK roles from 12% in 2005, 17.7% in 2008, 19.9% in 2011, 23.4% in 2014, 27.1% in 2017, 30.8% in 2018 and 30.2% in 2019 to 32.6% in Q1 of 2020.
Increase in the proportion of women in senior UK roles from 12% in 2005, 17.7% in 2008, 19.9% in 2011, 23.4% in 2014, 27.1% in 2017, 30.8% in 2018 and 30.2% in 2019 to 32.6% in Q1 of 2020.

More men than women in senior positions

The percentage of female senior leaders in the UK has more than doubled from 12% in 2005 to 32.6% by the first quarter of 2020. Although this continues to improve, there is still some way to go in meeting our aspiration of 35% female senior leaders by the end of 2025, and ultimately achieving gender balance.

Each business and function at Shell in the UK have recruitment aspirations to increase the number of female graduates and experienced hires that we recruit. We have reached equality in graduate recruitment; as a result of the wider reach of our recruitment efforts, our graduate female hiring has continued to increase from 58% in 2019 to 64% this year. Though the proportion of female experienced hires we have recruited in the UK stands at 32% in 2020, we remain committed to achieving greater female representation in the years ahead.

Women are under-represented

Women Shell worker

Women are under-represented in some specialist roles

Roles linked to STEM subjects and trading attract higher pay because of a scarcity of skills and competition in the market. We remain focused on addressing the under-representation of women in these roles by continuing to promote STEM subjects to women and other less represented groups.

We are involved in several initiatives to encourage girls to take up STEM subjects, and to encourage women to pursue a career in the energy industry, with the goal of creating a talent pipeline that is equally split between men and women. Some examples of our initiatives include:

  • Partnering with the Royal Academy of Engineering to create a national network of support for teachers across all STEM subjects,
  • Engaging more actively with women studying STEM disciplines at university by partnering with women’s networks on campus and ensuring our campus ambassador teams are gender balanced,
  • Amending language in job advertisements and imagery in our attraction campaigns to target more women and better reflect our business,
  • Actively managing talent in Upstream specialist and Trading roles by having diverse resourcing panels, running our Senior Women’s Connect Programme, strengthening our pipeline through annual reviews and proactively managing talent,
  • We have invested a further £1 million in Tomorrow’s Engineers Energy Quest – the national school programme that is helping to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers, which we have supported since 2014. Girls who have participated in the programme so far are twice as likely to see engineering careers as desirable, compared to the national average,
  • Active promotion of careers in Trading through real-life experiences from women and men in our business, from junior to senior leadership positions to dispel myths about trading being a man’s world and inflexible working practices.

While we have increased the number of women joining as graduates and achieved balance, we see more women joining our corporate and commercial disciplines than technical roles. Our focus in the future will be on accelerating the same levels of progress in our technical and trading disciplines.

The way bonuses are calculated

Women with marker and board

The way bonuses are calculated in some of our businesses.

It is common for senior positions to have a higher proportion of variable pay in the form of bonuses tied to individual and business performance. As we have greater representation of men in senior positions, this contributes to our bonus gap and is heightened in years of strong business performance. Additionally, higher variable pay in trading roles, where we have fewer women, creates a greater bonus gap.

Jessica Uhl

To lead in the energy transition, we have to find the best solutions through diversity of thought and experience underpinned by a true meritocracy where our people can realise their talents and fulfil their potential.

Jessica Uhl, Chief Financial Officer, Royal Dutch Shell plc

Equal pay vs gender pay gap

We are confident we pay men and women equally for work of equal value. We conduct regular analyses to ensure this is the case and engage openly with our employees on the mechanisms we have in place to ensure non-discriminatory pay practices.

We do have a gender pay gap, which is different. That is the difference in the average pay and bonuses of all men and all women across an organisation.


Our approach

We aim to create a culture that allows all our employees to bring their whole selves to work, be their best and thrive and perform well. 

Case studies

These describe the specific and differing challenges in some of our business areas, and the actions being taken to improve representation and build a more balanced and inclusive workplace at Shell in the UK.

Download the 2020 report

Read more about our progress towards diversity balance.