On February 26, 2019, Chevron announced its $5 million donation to Catalyst, a global nonprofit that works with companies to improve the retention and success of female employees by focusing on the role men can play in changing workplace culture. This donation is the largest in Catalyst’s history and will go toward the nonprofit’s Men Advocating Real Change program (MARC), which aims to empower men, especially male executives, “to engage in workplace inclusion through research-based programming and an online community to continue the conversation” around improving gender diversity. This initiative is targeted toward men because they “hold the vast majority of leadership positions among Fortune 500 companies,” and thus are in the best position to advocate and implement real change.
CEO of Catalyst Lorraine Hariton says this project provides men who are unsure how to help increase diversity and inclusion with important tools to “advocate for women within the workplace.” Some of the specific “trouble spots” targeted by the project include “work processes, practices, and interactions,” such as unconscious bias and stereotyping, which work against gender inclusion in the workplace.
Chevron began working with Catalyst two decades ago, but the oil and gas company’s recent record-breaking donation could suggest a “turning tide within the energy sector,” an industry that has long lagged behind in promoting gender equity in the workplace. Furthermore, it appears that working with MARC has led to improvements at Chevron. Since 2010, the percentage of women on the company’s board has increased 30 percent, and female membership on its management committee has increased from 11 to 20 percent. Chevron CEO Mike Wirth credits an increase in innovation at the company to improvements in diversity, calling the “business case” for initiatives like MARC “compelling.” However, although female hiring in the oil and gas industry has been increasing in recent years, companies are still in need of more women, especially in top executive roles. Chevron and its counterparts in the energy sector still have a long way to go before gender parity is visible on the horizon.