Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Women to be Given More Opportunities in Some Unlikely Logistics Sectors

Covid Helps Open Some Hitherto Closed Doors
Shipping News Feature

UAE – SWEDEN – One does not have to be a cynic to be a little surprised at the latest press release from the AD Ports group in Abu Dhabi. The United Arab Emirate and its near neighbours are not normally associated with female equality.

AD Ports has signed a new partnership agreement with Aurora50, a social enterprise focusing on achieving gender-balanced boardrooms in the UAE. Through the new partnership, AD Ports Group and Aurora50 aim to create a more inclusive and integrated workplace environment with a new purpose-driven programme, GLOW (Gain Leadership Opportunities for Women).

A look at the AD Ports website confirms that the group, which has interests in logistics, digialisation, free zones as well as ports and terminals home and abroad, currently has not a single female face amongst its top executives. The GLOW programme has been designed to accelerate the careers of high-potential Emirati women and prepare them for board-level and leadership positions. The accelerator will enable Emirati women to build a strategic plan for their career development and maximise career opportunities.

In addition, it will provide a suitable support mechanism and encouragement vehicle to enable female Emirati employees achieve and realise their highest potential. The policy was formulated at a recent Board Summit held in Abu Dhabi specifically to address the challenge of diversity on boards. Captain Mohamed Juma Al Shamisi, Group CEO, AD Ports Group, said:

“AD Ports Group strongly supports the vision of H.H. Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, the Mother of the Nation, as well as the UAE's National Strategy to drive and encourage women to play a leading role in the long-term development and future prosperity of the Emirates.

”Our company culture is committed to nurturing tomorrow's exceptional female leaders and closing the gender gap within an industry that men have traditionally dominated. By discovering holistic pathways for talent via empowering platforms such as GLOW, we will continue to empower our female Emirati employees and support the growth of Emirati female talent across the UAE."

The group insists that supporting equal opportunities is a key objective, and through ongoing training, workshops, mentorship, and coaching, the company recognises the strategic importance of developing a sustainable pool of talented, dynamic female directors. One distinctive female voice is that of Maitha Al Marar, VP-Human Capital & Emiratization, AD Ports Group, who commented:

“Thanks to the wise vision and invaluable support of our leadership, Emirati women are playing instrumental roles and making remarkable achievements across different industry sectors. GLOW is a distinguished initiative that focuses on nurturing female Emirati employees' technical abilities and personal development at AD Ports Group.

”It also reflects our commitment to ensuring that Emirati women have a supportive work environment, access to the tools they need to accelerate their career development and feel more confident in leadership roles.”

Participants will be chosen by a selection committee established by Aurora50 based on a standard criterion that aligns with AD Ports Group’s strategy. Third-party assessments tools will also be utilised to short-list participants. The programme includes live and virtual workshops, a dedicated workbook with online reading references, practical tools and assignments. Sheikha Shamma bint Sultan bin Khalifa Al Nahyan, co-founder of Aurora50 said:

"Our collaboration with AD Ports Group is a crucial step in our endeavour to strengthen gender diversity and unified prosperity in the country. Through GLOW, we will help AD Ports Group effectively identify local talent, establish more prosperous careers for their female Emirati employees and bolster the talent pipeline of female directors at the leadership and board-level."

Meanwhile in Sweden, Stena Line also has plans to adopt a more female centric approach seeing an opportunity to plug holes in the employment register by equalising the roles traditionally taken by men. With a shortage of skilled labour within the shipping industry there is currently fierce competition for talent. Therefore, now more than ever it is vitally important that companies like Stena Line provide an attractive place for young seafarers to work and develop successful careers.

In order to succeed at this the Swedish ferry company is hoping to build on its existing strong diversity drive to recruit more women, and crucially promote them to senior positions. It has set itself a target of appointing 30% females managers by the end of 2022. In a sector where only 2% of the 1.2 million seafarers are women this is an ambitious target that lays down a gauntlet for other companies to try to achieve.

However talk is cheap but Stena is proud of the fact that at least one of its multi million pound ships is under the control of its first female captain. This year 33 year old Lynette Bryson became Master on the Stena Adventurer in the Irish Sea, where she also has a full female Bridge team of officers. Captain Bryson has worked herself through the ranks, gaining four promotions since joining Stena in 2017, as a result of her professional, dedicated and diligent approach to her key leadership on the vessel. She says:

“I am incredibly proud to be sailing as Master on the Stena Adventurer, and as the first female Master at the company, this could not have been done without the support of my colleagues at Stena Line. As a young woman I always dreamt of a career at sea and never thought I could ever achieve being a Captain. I hope my position can encourage more young women to follow my path and have a successful maritime career.”

The Stena Adventurer is one of the largest vessel in Stena Line’s fleet. It serves the key Dublin to Holyhead route, where it operates four services a day. As Night Master it means Lynette Bryson, and her team of female officers, are in charge of two of those trips. Stena Line’s diversity ambitions are guided by the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals 5 - Achieve Gender Equality and Empower all Women and Girls - and specifically, to achieve Target 5.5 ‘Ensure women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision-making in political, economic and public life’. 

Speaking after her appearance at the Women in Maritime Summit, which has held as part of London International Shipping Week, Margaret Jensen Dickson, Group Head of People at Stena Line observed:

“The shipping sector is in a jobs crisis and there is a shortage of people in every part of the industry. No matter whether the problem is caused by Brexit, or the Pandemic, there is simple solution and that is to encourage more women to work in shipping.

”The people shortage is one of the biggest crises Stena Line has ever faced and we are throwing the kitchen sink at it. On board roles can no longer be seen as a male domain. With the appointment of Lynette Bryson as our first female Captain we have shown that woman can and will succeed at sea and Stena Line will be here to support them”.

Photo: Captain Lynette Bryson with (inset left) Maitha Al Marar.