Improving gender equality has been a low priority for too many global ports and while a few stand out for exceptional progress in diversity, the majority have a long road to travel.
Speaking to Seatrade, Barbara Buczek, executive director of Cruise Saudi, is encouraged by how the issue is being raised and the approach that the ports’ industry is taking to ensure a stronger emphasis on diversity and inclusion, albeit that there is much more that can be done. “It’s important to keep this conversation going and to maintain the progress that we’ve seen over the past decade,” she said.
Isabel Moura Ramos, executive board member of Port of Lisbon, is hopeful that the UN Sustainable Development Agenda 2030 will propel diversity in ports: to be sustainable a port must make progress in social, environment and economic areas. “The more ports act for a sustainable agenda, the more equal in gender they will be,” she said.
Speaking with Seatrade, other female executives involved in ports around the world offered their suggestions of how to encourage greater diversity in ports.
APM Terminals CCO Birna Ósk Einarsdóttir urged greater inclusion of women in frontline roles. “That is where misperception and stereotypes kick in most strongly. A female executive in an office is a no-brainer, but a woman operating a key crane or driving a terminal truck? Absolutely yes, and luckily, we are seeing more and more such examples across APM Terminals.
“Only by ensuring female participation at every career step can we have a strong pipeline of skilled female candidates for all types of roles.”
Malin Collin, deputy CEO and vice president for strategy and innovation at Port of Gothenburg, encouraged ports to make it easy to make the right choices, pay attention to inequalities, and create awareness on all levels. This could be through improved education and awareness, rethought recruitment practices, better training and development, setting relevant policies and practices, empowering leadership, and encouraging accountability. “Promoting diversity and inclusion in the ports sector requires a multifaceted approach. By taking steps to encourage diversity, ports can create a more inclusive and innovative workplace that benefits employees, customers, and the wider community.”
Sarah Haidar, port consultant and former terminal manager at BCTC Container Terminal in the Port of Beirut, added that ports need to include the subject of gender diversity in their objectives and in values. Then, ports need to promote both and work hard to achieve those objectives.
Lastly, Jacoba Bolderheij, Port of Den Helder CEO, advised the industry to work on improving the visual image of the sector. “I believe that spotlighting female role models at all levels and disciplines could be very helpful. In Europe at least, the image of the sector is, I believe, still holding back women from choosing the maritime sector.”
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