The Head of Maersk Marketing and Business Development within the Africa region, Anita De Werd, has said that the world’s largest shipping company acknowledges the importance of diversity and inclusion for the development of the maritime sector.
De Werd, who delivered a goodwill address at the 2019 World Maritime Day Celebration hosted by the Federal Ministry of Transportation in Lagos on Thursday, said: “We know that in order to fulfill our role in society as enablers of global trade, we need to advocate for women to have a seat at the table in our organization and ensure women entrepreneurs have access to global trade.”
She said Maersk has developed a partnership agreement with She-Trades, an initiative from the International Trade Centre, to connect three million women entrepreneurs to the global markets by 2021.
De Werd commended Nigerian women operating in the maritime industry for being the standard bearers for the African continent.
“About 400 years ago, Queen Amina led her community because she deserved to do so based on her capability and ambition, her gender was not a disqualifier. She was a fierce warrior, who personally led military expeditions of over 20,000 infantrymen to innumerable battles. She was innovative and brought great wealth and power to her kingdom. Queen Amina typifies the Nigerian woman today, who is hard working, open-minded and a fast learner. She is capable of leading and bringing prosperity to everything she does. On this day of celebrating 2019 World Maritime Day, Maersk celebrates especially the Nigerian women, who hold top positions and inspire those around them.
“To Maersk, being a diverse and inclusive organization makes us stronger, more resilient and insightful. It helps us to understand the present, better anticipate the challenges and opportunities that may arise in the future and better manage the transformation we are leading in the maritime industry.”
“Some of the programs we have are addressing the issue of unconscious bias. We all have unconscious biases, and without being aware we can unconsciously exclude people that are different or seen as ‘outsiders’ who don’t ‘fit the mold’. We are working on making the unconscious, conscious for our leaders,” she said.
De Werd said Maersk was keen on bringing African women on board of its leadership teams through its Africa Leadership Development program, “where 65 percent of participants are now heading up managerial roles in countries in Africa”.
“Organizations that reflect the societies they serve are stronger and more successful than those that don’t. I firmly believe that when we work, think, and act to leverage the participation of women in the workplace, we’re seizing one of the greatest opportunities of our age – equality for all,” she added.