Diversity on the government agenda
The meeting gathered young talents and leaders from various maritime companies to share perspectives and experiences with the Minister of Fisheries and Ocean Policies, Bjørnar Skjæran. A new study shows that the share of women in the maritime sector remains low, and the Minister brought the parties together to discuss what we all can do, and to get input to the government's work on an equality strategy for the sector.
Members of the maritime cluster welcomed the opportunity and exchanged a variety of suggestions for how to increase the diversity of our industry's workforce.
Malin Haugen, who wrote her bachelor thesis on how to recruit women into the industry, highlighted the importance of sharing knowledge:
"Learning about the maritime industry and career opportunities should begin at a young age. We need more role models to share experiences and inspire recruitment, in social media, schools, on TV etc."
Emilie Stang also underlined the importance of role models and added:
"It is also essential to focus on the culture, attitudes and working environment. Uniforms, gloves and other gear must be gender-appropriate, and there should be programs in place to ensure that we retain our certificates if we have long periods away from the sea, whether to start a family or to pursue other career opportunities ashore."
Gender equality in the maritime: Work in progress, but still a way to go
The meeting's participants, who represent a variety of maritime businesses, are united by a common challenge: The maritime industry is traditionally male-dominated, and although female recruitment is increasing, there is still a significant gender imbalance in the workforce.
The Minister emphasized the maritime industry's vital role in Norway as the world's fourth-largest shipping nation, as well as the need to maintain the sector's competitiveness and innovation going forward, particularly through the ‘green transition’. "To succeed, we cannot hire from only half of the population; we require the competence of both women and men," he said.
This viewpoint is also a key component in Odfjell's diversity strategy. In the meeting, CEO Harald Fotland shared that Odfjell works actively to increase the proportion of women, that we have come a long way in many departments, but that we have a much longer way to go within leadership and certain specialized roles. He also emphasized the importance of government cooperation in maintaining Norwegian seafarers' competitiveness in the global labor market:
"We need the government to provide the incentives we require in order to be able to recruit and retain seafarers. Odfjell is one of the leading recruiters of the Norwegian maritime industry, in recent years with a record number of women hired. We want to continue this positive trend, but to do this, we need the government to continue providing the incentives to secure a viable future.
We welcome the initiative from the Ministry to develop a maritime-specific equality strategy. We look forward to the outcome and will continue collaborating with the government, schools and the maritime cluster to make our industry's workforce more diverse in the years to come."