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Maritime SheEO conference 2021 brings together 3500 global stakeholders to celebrate diversity , change makers and sustainable solutions.

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MUMBAI : For the second consecutive year, Ms. Sanjam Sahi Gupta, Founder, Maritime SheEO, and Ms. Birgit M Liodden of The Ocean Opportunity Lab co-organized the world’s largest maritime diversity conference on Thursday, November 25th, 2021. The conference held digitally brought together prominent maritime professionals, government officials, marine lawyers, port captains, pilots, shipowners, business entrepreneurs, seafarers and women professionals in the maritime industry from around the world to celebrate change makers, diversity, and long-term solutions. The event drew an astounding 3500  +attendees from 77 different nations !

 Speaking at the Maritime SheEO conference, keynote speaker Mr. Kitack Lim, IMO Secretary-General, said: “The inclusion of women in the workforce and in leadership roles is fundamental to our global economies resilience”.    

Natasa Pilides, Minister of Energy, Commerce, and Industry, Republic of Cyprus in her opening remarks stated that “Cyprus is fully committed to the Paris Agreement and EU goals. To this end, we are working on revamping our strategy”.

In his opening speech, Bjornar Selnes Skjaeran, Ministry of Fisheries and Ocean Policy Norway remarked “to ensure that the maritime industry can develop further and be part of the solution to end the climate crisis, we have to be able to recruit the best talents, the best hearts, and the brightest mind”.

During the session on “Best Practices – The Business Case for Diversity” the International Chamber of Shipping’s Secretary-General Mr. Guy Platten said “We as an industry are missing out on an opportunity if we effectively exclude half the workforce.” “We are not doing ourselves any favours.” 

At the event, Captain Rajesh Unni, CEO and Founder of Synergy Group which strongly advocates and practices diversity, gender equality and leadership acceleration procedures remarked “Our focus has been to build an inclusive environment through this.  The biggest change we need to make is within our leadership”.

Dr. Cleopatra Doumbia-Henry, President of  World Maritime University (WMU), inspired other women and encouraged them by stating “When you have an opportunity, think a little bit deeply about that opportunity. There is nothing like  I can’t. Yes, I can, and I will”.

While speaking on the topic of the Future of Maritime Education : Can we shift to a hybrid model during the panel discussion, Capt. Pradeep Chawla, Chairman, GlobalMet said “Before deciding what’s the future model, we need to discuss and understand the competencies of the future”. 

An important topic discussed at the event was “Women who were first: paving the way, widening the road”.  This discussion had very eminent women from the industry on the panel which included Ms.Sadan Kaptanoglu, CEO, Kaptanoglu, first Female Chairperson of BimCO, (insert name and title first female chairperson of BIMCO, Ms. Valeri Sorrenti, First Female Officer in the Uruguay Navy, Ms.Sonali Banerjee, India’s first women marine engineer, Marine Surveyor, IRS, Mrs. HK Joshi, first woman CMD, SCI, Ms .Sakura Kua, CEO, APM Terminals, Japan, Ms. Tania Polonnowita Wettimuny, Group Managing Director, IAS Holdigs. The session was moderated by Ms.Jillian Carson Jackson, President, The Nautical Institute, Australia. They talked about the current perception on gender equality and the greatest challenge faced i.e. the peoples’ mindset in this traditional and stereotypical world.

Singapore’s Maritime Port Authority chief executive Quah Ley Hoon said that the future of shipping can be classified as GLAD (global, low-carbon, automated and digital).

Other speakers addressed a variety of maritime-related topics, including SheEOs breaking stereotypes with a focus on Africa, diversity in ports and why it matters, careers in the maritime sector, hiring women in the maritime sector, the business case for diversity, new technologies and digitalization, and global female leadership. 

Mr. P. Manoj, Sr. Deputy Editor of The Hindu, stated during the session on Women in the Media, that “Women need to participate more in the industry and make their presence felt,” and “Women should cultivate better relationships with the media”.

The media panel saw participation from Lloyds list and Tradewinds.

In a unique panel discussion that spoke about “Passing the Baton in Business from father to daughter”, Mr.Saber H. Chowdhury, Managing Director, Kamaphuli Group, who is also a member of Parliament Bangladesh, Chair of the Parliamentary Committee on Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climatic Change, Member of the Parliamentary Committee on Ministry Planning along with his daughter Raimah Chowdhury, Managing Director of HR Lines Limited in Bangladesh, emphasised that “Diversity enriches the way a company functions and can easily be the greatest strength of your Company”.

Mr. Mick Kinley, CEO, of The Australian Maritime Safety Authority stated “Investment in cultures that support women, representative genders and the cultivation of target opportunities, to show women that a career in maritime can be both rewarding and exciting”.

The conference also saw a special address by Shri Amitabh Kumar, Director General Shipping, GOI  who spoke about  the recent developments and the action plan of maritime vision 2025. 

In her closing remarks Sanjam Sahi Gupta mentioned “Diverse environment helps us make better decisions and provide a more inclusive environment.  The sessions at the conference have shown us just that”.

Four awards were conferred at the conference – 2 individual awards for being “Champions of Diversity” was presented to Mrs.HK Joshi, First Women CMD, SCI and Ms.Jillian Carson Jackson, President, Nautical Institute, Australia.

During the panel discussion session on the topic “Women Who Were First: Paving the way, widening the Road” – Mrs. H K Joshi had this to say “When we talk about gender and equality, it’s becoming more fashionable to talk about it than to actually implement it”.

While moderator for the session, Jillian Carson Jackson stated that “If you can see it, you can believe it and then you can be it. It takes many small steps before you Being celebrated a first”.

The corporate awards for “Company with Diversity Practices”  were awarded to Maersk India and South Asia Gateway Terminals (Pvt) Ltd. (Port of Colombo) 

Takeaways from the conference 
1)Diversity is key to shipping’s future skills gap
New skill sets will be needed as shipping embarks on decarbonisation and digitalisation. This
gives a good opportunity for women to join the industry that has been male-dominated

“it’s not about gender; it’s about capability and who can bring the latest technology to the sector.” said Ley Hoon QUAH  , CEO of the Maritime & Port Authority of Singapore

2)Cadets and students must be involved in the diversity dialogue as a way of attracting talent to the industry.
“We need to keep the dialogue going — because unless we keep driving home the point that gender equality
is a good goal — it’s spoken about and forgotten,” said Maritime SheEO founder Sanjam Gupta.

3)We need to share global best practices and highlight hero companies who
are committed to the topic. Standards and clear targets should be set.

4) Mentoring is essential and “women who were first need to pave the road for other
women to follow”, Jillian………..

5)Women on boards are important because “without women in senior
roles, we can’t make progress”. 

6)The media needs to play an important role in highlighting female role models and smashing stereotypes

7)There must be a zero tolerance against gender discrimination and there needs to be training for dealing with the unconscious bias

8) Social entrepreneurs should be supported and /responsibility to protect our oceans and our planet 

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