The International Women's Day (IWD) is a worldwide celebration of women's social, economic, cultural, and political achievements. It also serves as a call to action to accelerate gender equality. The theme of IWD 2023 is #EmbraceEquity, emphasizing the importance of gender equity in all aspects of society.
At Maersk, inclusion means acknowledging, recognising and celebrating the different viewpoints and skills that our employees bring into the workplace. At the global level, Maersk is targeting to have 40% of management and leadership positions occupied by women by 2025. In Africa, our overall female representation grew from 40% to 45%, while those at leadership level also grew from 25% to 39% from October 2021 to November 2022 which put the region well on track with the global targets.
Mechell Chetty, Head of People Function for Maersk in Latin America, Indian Subcontinent, Middle East, and Africa Region, Chetty shares her perspective on why women empowerment is important both internally and externally, how technology and innovation can be incorporated to foster gender equality, and what challenges and opportunities lie ahead for women in Africa.
Why do you think it is important to celebrate International Women’s Day?
The day is important because it not only gives us an opportunity to reflect on how far we have come as women in society, but also to acknowledge how much more we need to do to achieve true gender equality. It also allows us to recognize and appreciate the contributions of women across different fields and sectors, and to inspire and empower each other.
How do you view women empowerment from an internal and external lens?
As a multinational corporation that has a global impact on society, we have an external lens that shows us our responsibility to have a voice when it comes to issues of equality and equity in society. We must be aware and conscious of the fact that women's empowerment means different things in each of the countries in which we operate.
On the African continent, for example, we know that women are not yet economically equal to men, but when given the opportunity to participate in economic activity, they have a significant impact on their families and communities.
So, how do we continue to empower women in society, both in the informal and formal sectors? That is a debate that all leaders should be having.
On the other hand, we have an internal lens that illuminates our responsibilities as a responsible employer. Diversity and inclusion is one of the lenses, which means ensuring that our workforce reflects the diversity of our customers and markets. And, without a doubt, we have made significant progress in terms of diversity, equity, and inclusion over time, and we will continue to do so.
What are some of the initiatives that Maersk has implemented or supported to promote gender equity internally?
Some of the initiatives that we have implemented or supported include:
- Creating an inclusive culture where everyone feels valued, respected, and heard.
- Providing equal opportunities for career development, training, and mentoring.
- Ensuring fair pay practices and transparency.
- Supporting flexible work arrangements and work-life balance.
- Providing targeted development programs for women and availing the skills, tools, and techniques to help maximize their potential.
- Supporting women’s networks and mentoring programs.
How does this year’s theme of #EmbraceEquity relate to your work at Maersk?
This year's theme, #EmbraceEquity, is very relevant to our work at Maersk because it aligns with our vision of being a sustainability industry leader. We believe that sustainability encompasses both environmental and social impact. Diversity, equity, and inclusion are important components of social impact. We believe that by embracing equity, we can add value to our customers, employees, shareholders, and society.
How do you see technology and innovation as enablers of gender equality?
Technology and innovation can provide many women and girls with access to information, education, healthcare, finance, and other services that they would not have had otherwise. They can also open up new avenues for employment, entrepreneurship, leadership, and participation.
However, we must keep in mind the digital divide that exists between men and women, particularly in developing countries. We must make technology and innovation inclusive, affordable, and accessible.
At Maersk, I use data to have a 360 view of how we are tracking, and it has really supported the organisation to plan and prioritize our attraction, retention, and development of our talent.
Parting shot to other women from your personal journey?
As we celebrate International Women's Day, I would like to share some self-care tips for women who balance work and family. I understand how difficult it can be to strike a balance between the two, and how easy it is to neglect ourselves in the process. I discovered this the hard way when work became my sole focus, and I became disconnected from my own well-being.
That is why I decided to take up a hobby that would both physically and mentally challenge me and provide me with a sense of accomplishment. This hobby led me to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro, which was an incredible experience that demonstrated my ability to push myself in both my personal and professional life.
I also learned that working mothers do not have to feel guilty about it. We frequently believe that we do not do enough for our children or our jobs, but this is not the case. When we pursue our dreams and make time for our children, we are modelling independence and self-esteem for them. We are not abandoning them, but rather empowering them. We still have responsibilities, but we can delegate some of them and rely on others to assist us.
Finally, I realized that work and life are not mutually exclusive. They can coexist in a way that benefits both. For example, we can have co-workers who are present in both our professional and social lives. Work-life balance is beneficial if it allows us to enjoy both aspects of our lives. I hope these suggestions inspire you to take care of yourself and be proud of your achievements as a woman.
Happy International Women’s Day!
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