I woke up this morning feeling grateful for a lot of things. An amazing home life, an incredibly fulfilling job, and a world-class Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) team – 2/3 of which are women – that impress and motivate me every single day. Today the world also marks International Women’s Day, a global celebration of the strength women bring to the world, whose goal is to help forge a more gender-balanced future.
While we should not need a holiday to remind us all of the importance of gender equality and women’s empowerment, today does serve as a reminder of just how fortunate I am to work in an organization – and an industry – that has made such big strides around this important issue.
Believe it or not, I have been with WSPA for nearly thirty years. Needless to say things are much different for women in our industry – and in all of business – today versus three decades ago. The opportunities we have now seemed almost unimaginable when I first began my career, but perseverance proved otherwise. Somewhere along the way I decided that I wasn’t going to let traditional roles dictate my future and my potential. I’ve been able to work hard and be recognized for that work, and am proud and humbled to be one of the first female business leaders in the oil and gas industry.
With that experience comes a sense of responsibility. It is not only a strong passion, but also a personal and professional mission of mine to ensure the organization I lead empowers women to be the best employees possible, working in an environment that is inclusive, diverse and rewarding. That’s why last year I started the “Women of WSPA Initiative” (WOWI), a network of women connected to WSPA who work to ensure that women in the oil and gas industry have equal opportunities, representation and respect.
Starting WOWI has been a professional highlight for me, and I am continuously impressed with how many employees not only want to be involved, but truly want to help mentor and boost up other women in our organization and industry, something that is fostering the healthiest and most satisfying work environment I’ve ever been a part of.
Nationally, women still only make up around a fifth of the total oil and gas industry workforce, a number that has risen since I first started out, but that still has a long way to go. At WSPA I am proud to report that we employ 66% females, and programs like WOWI are helping to ensure that every one of them feels empowered to take on any challenge offered.
As I think about my career, there are still so many things I want to – and plan to – accomplish at WSPA. But knowing I’ve been a part of creating real change and supporting others to motivate each other is a pretty good feeling. I’m looking forward to even more progress in the years to come. So today, on International Women’s Day, I hope everyone can take a moment to commit in some small way to support this overarching mission of equality, gender-balance and mutual respect. It’s something that has guided my career, and I hope can guide yours as well.
Catherine Reheis-Boyd is the President of the Western States Petroleum Association and oversees the trade organization’s operations and advocacy in five states. You can follow her on Twitter @WSPAprez.