Female workers: APM Terminals Apapa provides level playing field for both genders 

Female workers: APM Terminals Apapa provides level playing field for both genders 

Two female crane operators, Perpetual Onyia and Augustina Omodele, and a banksman, Erica Moughalu, speak about their experience working at APM Terminals Apapa. The trio posit that Nigeria’s largest container terminal operator offers equal employment and growth opportunities to people irrespective of gender. 



Can you kindly introduce yourself? 

My name is Perpetua Onyia. I work at APM Terminals Apapa as a mobile harbour crane (MHC) operator. I started as a reach stacker operator, moved on to empty container handler, rubber tyred gantry crane (RTG), and presently a mobile harbour crane operator.


What does diversity and inclusion in the workplace mean to you? 

Inclusion and diversity mean involving the two genders in the workplace; giving both equal rights and opportunities. It also means not being biased towards a particular gender and not having this assumption that one gender is better or more productive than the other.

As a female employee at APM Terminals, I am happy to note that my opinions are respected. I have had instances where I made suggestions towards certain areas of the frontline and they were implemented. If you have a good and informed idea, which would have a positive impact, APM Terminals definitely looks into it.


Can you share some of your ideas that were implemented?  

When I was operating the reach stacker and I noticed that the area where we were working had poor lighting; there was no proper visibility and I had a talk with my shift manager. I told him that this could result in an accident, he said he was going to look into it. In less than a month, I saw them coming towards the area to install a light mast. Basically, the lighting was improved. Another idea that was implemented had to do with the cafeteria; food. Yes I am a foodie. I love food. I suggested something cafeteria-related on food being served and timing, and it was implemented. Finally, we had challenges in our locker room, I brought it up and it was worked on.


How does it feel working in a traditionally male-dominated industry?

At first it was daunting but now it is exciting. It was initially daunting for me because the biggest thing I have ever driven prior was an SUV. Then I came here and behold this big equipment. I doubted myself at first. Could I do this? But with time, it became exciting. I got used to it and I felt I could even do more. It is really fun! It is this kind of feeling that oh, what these guys are doing, I am also doing the same. It is fulfilling, career-wise I am happy I took up and I am proud of myself. 


Do you feel psychologically safe and included?

Not everybody from the opposite gender has come to accept the female gender in this traditionally male-dominated field. Some have welcomed us, some have been receptive enough but there are still others who believe you are not supposed to be here; you’re supposed to be in the kitchen…


Do you have the opportunities and resources to succeed in your job as your male counterparts?

Yes, most definitely. I am 101 percent positive that I have the same opportunities and resources that the other gender has to succeed. From day one of stepping into APM Terminals, it has always been a fair and equal chance. Nobody is saying you’re a female, you can’t do this. They even want to see you do it and dare you to do it, which is the thing that would have been done to my male counterparts. If you meet your KPI (key performance indicator) for a particular level, and you are ready for the next level, the same opportunities will be given to take a shot at it. Here at APM Terminals Apapa, that is the narrative.


The theme of the 2022 International Women’s Day is break the bias. How is this important in the workplace?

It is important to break the bias to reduce any unintentional discrimination and it would also help create an equal opportunity for women in terms of selection and progression to a high level in management and leadership roles. In the frontline, it is important to break the bias to enable us, women, get to the peak in our careers. It also shows that women are included and welcomed.


Women are currently assuming more challenging roles at APM Terminals. What are your reflections on this?

It alludes to the popular saying that what a man can do a woman can do better. It shows that there is nothing you could give a woman or challenge a woman to do; and when she puts her mind to it, it would come through. Taking myself as an example, who would have thought that I would get to where I am today! But it is because APM Terminals gave me the opportunity to do it. There are some places you go to and they leave you at the entry-level and say they have included women. That is not the idea at all here. APM Terminals gives you the opportunities to take more challenging roles and if I am given that opportunity, why would I waste it? I would take it and maximize it. 

It is good that women are being allowed to take up more challenging roles. It gives room to broader perspectives, soft touches feminine point of view. Where the male masculinity might overlook, the female would see it. A woman always brings a different approach to the table! 


What progress have you witnessed in APM Terminals in terms of the continuous strive for a diverse and more inclusive environment?

A whole lot of progress has been made. As of 2018 APM Terminals didn’t have any female operators but in 2019 they gave it a shot. They brought some of us in and I am one of the pioneer female crane operators. In 2019, the game changed, we proved that women can also do this. There is basically no department here where you will not find at least two or three females. There has been a lot of progress in APM Terminals Nigeria. 

When you talk of remuneration, disciplinary actions, benefits, compensation, and promotion, it has been a fair deal since I started here. For my field specifically, it has been fair. It has been equal opportunities, equal progression, equal rights, equal playing field. The playing field has been level for both genders, with everybody moving at the same pace. 



Please introduce yourself. 

My name is Erica Muoghalu. I am a banksman at APM Terminals Apapa. I work in the operations room, which is one of the biggest rooms in the admin building. I utilise the CCTV cameras to work hand-in-hand with the mobile crane operators, truck drivers, clerks in the yard, planning teams and equipment control teams. When there are issues that require my physical presence – probably damaged containers, I go to the field to have a physical look and generate a report. 


What is your view on inclusion, equity and diversity in the workplace?

Diversity entails people from diverse backgrounds – family, work, gender. Inclusion talks about these people with different backgrounds coming together to achieve a common goal. They are in one environment despite having different backgrounds. Equity means giving everyone a fair ground to grow or play despite gender or age disparities. To me, inclusion, equity and diversity are the totality of what APM Terminals stands for since I have been here. 


As a female banksman, do you think your opinions or ideas matter?

Of course, they do. I had past work experiences before I joined APM Terminals Apapa. I must say that in APM Terminals there is a culture of equality, inclusion and diversity. It is not something you have prior knowledge of if you have not worked in other places. You could tell that as a lady, your opinions matter. Whenever we are in a meeting or training, there is nothing like because you are a woman, you can do this but not this. It is a fair and equal ground for everyone to play. And whatever I merit is given to me. Though it is silent, but you see and experience it.


How does it feel working in a traditionally male-dominated shipping industry?

I actually had experience working in male-dominated departments in my previous workplaces and so it doesn’t come across as something strange. I don’t see it as something that should be stereotyped, but in the shipping industry it is a new thing for me but that I have male colleagues teaching and guiding me from my first day here. They taught me about containers, vessels, badges. I met this warm and welcoming atmosphere when I came in and that makes the environment more welcoming and inclusive for me. 

Here you are given the opportunity to have a sense of ownership. You own your work; you are accountable for integrity on the job, and for me that is what I also stand for, and that alone. So I am psychologically safe and included to succeed.


Do you enjoy the same resources and opportunities as your male counterparts?

Absolutely! There has not been partiality in terms of gender. The atmosphere gives you an opportunity to shine and possibly outshine your male counterparts. There are no psychological or emotional biases, seen or unseen, conditional or unconditional that could come in a workplace. Of course, at some age, certain factors can come to play in women but I have also seen some of my counterparts here who are nursing mothers. They have flexible work hours, enough maternity leave and a psychological backing that they are safe on their job. 


The theme of the 2022 International Women’s Day is break the bias. How is this important in the workplace? 

It is very important to break the bias in the workplace. It is about a fair review of salaries, payment schemes, making organisational policies and programs in the workplace, which do not in any way adversely affect women. It talks about when the women are getting to a certain age, they take positions where they would still be relevant and may not excessively use their physical power, yet their technical know-how and skills are needed. It is also about ensuring that both genders are in the same place regardless of the noises out there. They may not be verbal comments; they could be behaviorally spoken even by fellow gender. But here it is not like that. APM Terminals has a positive work culture and this has given women the ability or a stepping-stone to shut out these noises and focus. When you are focused, you will definitely see the results on your productivity. 


Do you think women are assuming more challenging roles at APM Terminals Apapa? 

Before I joined APM Terminals, I read a lot about them in the media. When in 2018/2019 the process of bringing in women onboard began and I heard about it, I was glad because I always desired to work here. When I came in, women were assuming strategic positions like managerial roles, and of course I was happy. There is more accountability, questions are being asked which most times the other gender may not get to ask and they do come into play. The land is green for everyone to grow. 


What progress have you witnessed in APM Terminals in terms of the continuous strive for a diverse and more inclusive environment?

What I have witnessed is also all over the news. APM Terminals is one of the best companies operating in Nigeria and Africa, we operate with the industry best practices and standards with regards to occupational health and safety and the kind of equipment we use. We have smart buildings; smart technologies and our IT personnel are top-notch. APM Terminals has made very huge progress. The world has changed tremendously from manual to digital. There were times things were done manually – the banksmen had to go outside to the quayside under the sun and inside the rain to do some jobs. But currently, it is not so. We now have shelters at the quayside, we use smart cameras to capture what is going on in the yard. The present upgrades in the terminal have made it easy for women to still be relevant without excessively working out themselves. They get to work smart. This is how APM terminals have continued to strive and improve on their diverse and all-inclusive environment. 


What about equity in the workplace? 

I have enjoyed equity. When I came in, the male folks immediately helped me to settle down. I experienced a warm welcome from both the male and female genders. Whenever we have our meetings, there is a fair ground for everyone to talk and when I have difficulties executing my tasks, my supervisor and superintendent are very helpful. The question of my gender does not come to play and it gives me the backbone to perform well on the job. 



Can you kindly introduce yourself? 

My name is Omodele Augustina. I am a reach stacker operator. I have been in APM Terminals Apapa for some years now – I started as a terminal truck operator and thereafter was trained as a reach stacker operator. This is my sixth month as a reach stacker operator. 


What do inclusion, equity, and diversity mean to you? 

How I understand diversity is having people from different backgrounds working in an organisation. You, as an individual, would have to understand everybody’s character and behaviour in order to achieve an enabling work environment.


Do you think your ideas matter in the workplace?

I believe my ideas and opinions to a very large extent matter as a female. There were times my female colleagues who are also operators, at meetings expressed their opinions or observations, and APM Terminals implemented these suggestions and ideas. 


How does it feel working in the port, which is a traditionally male-dominated environment?

I feel happy working in such a diverse workplace. I actually fell in love with APM Terminals before I got here and went through social media, and I discovered they have females working in the terminals. I decided to also be a part of this history. I applied because I enjoy taking up challenges and I have admiration for the shipping industry. I relish engaging in male-related activities as a result of my previous training/work experience as an automobile technician. I enjoy doing what men can do as well. I feel psychologically safe on the job, I approach and deal with my co-employees based on their uniqueness and distinctiveness. 


Do you have the opportunities and resources to succeed in your job as your male counterparts?

APM Terminals does not allow impartiality. Equal rights, opportunities as well as resources are available to both genders. When it comes to discipline, it is all the same. When you come to the terminal truck unit, there are females there; you see females everywhere, even at the security post. It is only the shift managers that we don’t have females – yet!


The theme of the 2022 International Women’s Day is break the bias. How is this important in the workplace?

It is very important to break the bias so the female folks would not be intimidated in the workplace. It would enhance equal grounds for the female gender to grow to the reality of their dreams career-wise. 


Women are currently assuming more challenging roles at the terminal. What are thoughts on it?

I am always happy when managerial positions are given to females. It excites me when APM Terminals organises a prize-giving day and women are called out among their male colleagues as the best in their units of operations. There was a day my supervisor told me that the way I was handling the machine was better than how some of my male colleagues handled theirs. I am always happy when females are given kudos or the opportunity to take charge of certain responsibilities.

The opportunity APM Terminals has given to the female folks to come onboard to showcase what they have is impressive. APM Terminals has always been an equal opportunities organisation. So, you don’t expect any preferential treatment based on gender from your supervisor or superintendent. 


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