Better Business With Diversity

Climate crisis, trade wars and a global pandemic. Can diversity and gender equality in the marine industry bring needed solutions when sailing through rough seas?

During Oslo Innovation Week 2020 (OIW), held on 21-25 September of this year, TOOL streamed a high-level panel organized by Maritime Bergen (MB) on the topic of diversity in the maritime industry. Speakers such as Prime Minister of Norway Erna Solberg along with the head of Vipps, Berit Svendsen, and significant players in the marine industry were invited to bring their perspectives.

TOOL is currently collaborating with MB on joint events promoting gender equality and recruitment to the maritime sector. MB represents and strengthens the ability of sea-based industries to conduct business in and from the Bergen region. Perhaps diversity also can be useful for business?

Providing Solutions to Pressing Issues

Siv Remøy-Vangen from Maritime Bergen kicked off the debate by shedding light on how the maritime industry is facing enormous challenges and uncertainty:

“We are in the middle of a climate crisis, where we are facing demands to reduce greenhouse gases and switch to low- and zero-emission technology.  At the same time trade wars, increased protectionism and a change of power from West to East complicate international cooperation. On top of that, a tiny virus knocks the legs from underneath the entire World.”

The panel discussed how welcoming more women in the maritime industry could bring crucial and novel perspectives for solving these pressing issues. Diversity was highlighted as an essential factor to innovate under challenging times. Berit explains how Vipps became one of the most popular methods of payment in just a few years: “The answer lies in diversity in experience, industry knowledge, education, gender and ethnicity. When you focus on diversity, you can sit back and wait because the ideas will come to you.”

Deputy Managing Director at Knutsen OAS Shipping AS Synnøve Seglem focused on how the shipping industry is continuously evolving and has many issues to solve. This requires a diverse range of perspectives and ideas:

“There’s everything from the technical on the ships, to contracts, to finances. There is a lot to do, learn and understand. In this industry, you never stop learning, and at the same time, we need more knowledge.”

Prime Minister Erna Solberg noted that the Norwegian government’s goal is for Norway to become a leading ocean nation. But how do we get to this position? When according to the International Maritime Organization, merely two per cent of all seafarers in the world are women?

Being Seen and Seeing Women

Synnøve Seglemn highlighted how shipping is all about being seen.

“Being in a large group of like 50 men in dark suits and ties, where the only difference between them is the colour of their tie, it is much easier to be remembered when you are a woman.”

However, it is not only about being seen as a woman, but leaders and recruiters in the marine industry also need to be on the lookout for the most qualified talent to develop a robust industry that can tackle the growing challenges. Talent must never be ignored. “We need all men and women on deck,” as the prime minister eloquently noted.

Watch the full episode here.