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201222-all-in-for-a-better-gender-balance

Blog: ‘All-in for a better gender balance’ by CFO, Katja Otten

Over the past months I’ve had the chance to speak about diversity, inclusion and empowerment in interviews for the Dutch organisation Top Vrouwen and for the Women in Maritime series in TERMINALMAG. These topics are close to my heart, but more importantly, I think they should be close to the hearts of everybody in our industry.

As a woman leader, I am happy to be engaged in conversations about the role of women it terminal logistics, ways to make our industry more gender-balanced and creating equal opportunities for all our talents. Since joining APM Terminals in 2017, I’ve observed with pride how our talented and passionate female colleagues have slowly, but confidently, become more visible in all parts of our organisation, but there is clearly a long way to go before we can truly say that gender balance is no longer an issue in the port logistics and maritime sectors.

That is exactly the reason why I believe all leaders, regardless of their gender, should think of diversity as one of the natural perspectives of their leadership – something they consider not only when discussing development opportunities with their teams, but also when talking business performance. Diversity should therefore not be perceived as one of the “soft” topics mentioned on top of all the business issues discussed on daily basis, but one of the business topics itself.

Well into the 21st century, it has been researched and concluded many times that diverse teams and organisations perform better and deliver stronger results due to the variety of backgrounds, experiences and personalities. It’s simply easier to source new ideas when there is diversity of thought around us. In most cases diversity means also a better representation one’s customer footprint which must help to understand customer needs better.

It should also be a no-brainer that women and men are equally fit for a wide range of jobs in the port logistics and maritime industry, where hiring decisions should be made based on skills and potential of each individual. I am very pleased to see more and more women in front line roles at APM Terminals – such as crane drives – as well in managerial positions. Those of us who are already part of this exciting universe need to be the advocates for more female visibility in what is often – wrongly – perceived as a “male” industry.

This industry is about passion, dedication and commitment. About the thrill of being part of global supply chains and ensuring that people around the world get the goods they need as quickly as possible. It’s about making logistics easier and faster through more efficient solutions and digitisation. And yes, it is also about rolling up your sleeves and getting the job done. But do we really need to put a gender tag on any of this?

Further progress on our gender balance journey depends on good leadership, formal or informal, and on role modelling. It also depends on having an inclusive culture, where everybody gets a chance to pursue their dreams and career aspirations. And that is something that all of us can impact and where all of us have a role to play.