UK utility chief seeks to bridge industry’s gender pay gap

Sabrina Corbo knew before starting the Green Network SpA in 2003 that she wanted to keep working and have three children. Her mission is to make it possible for other women to do the same. Now, she’s leading a utility with 250,000 customers in Britain with a smaller gender-pay gap than any of the Big Six energy suppliers dominating the industry. With sales of 2 billion euros ($2.4 billion) and offices in Rome and London, Green Network is attempting to spread renewable power as it makes its workplace welcoming to women.

“I will never give up because I have a family,” Corbo said at an interview at Bloomberg’s offices in London. “I want the same for other women and I have a responsibility to help them.”

Energy remains largely a man’s world, and the number of women who have served as chief executives can be counted on one hand. None of the six largest utilities in Britain have a female figurehead. Men lead the biggest utilities in Italy, France and Germany.

Sabrina Corbo founded the company with her husband Piero Saulli, who leads the Italian office. Corbo runs Green Network’s U.K. unit, where there is an equal split between male and female managers. While Green Network hasn’t achieved parity between men and women on pay, they’re closer than others in the industry with the mean hourly rate 10 percent lower for women than for men. In Italy, Corbo is executive vice president in the parent company. There, 59 percent of managers are female and women’s average hourly pay is 6.3 percent lower. The figures show Green Network is ahead of its larger competitors in Britain on gender pay equality.

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