International Women’s Day 2021

In celebration and recognition of this year’s International Women’s Day, we asked a few of our colleagues to share their thoughts, views and opinions on what the day means to them.

Zalina Rahmat, Fleet Resourcing Executive – Subsea & Cable, Global Marine Group

International Women’s Day is well-known to celebrate the achievements of women and rallying for equality and gender parity. I feel that, even in this generation, women are facing bias environment and disparity in both social and working culture. Together, we can show our support and empower the women all around the world.

In my experience, working professionals, identifying as women, can face gender inequality, and can sometimes be branded as a stereotype, which typically can lead to difficulties in career advancement or not receiving pay parity.

Having worked at Global Marine Group (GMG) for more than five years, I have seen the company embracing diversity and support of women, encouraging us to step up and pursue goals that traditionally could have favoured males.

GMG advocates upskilling and investing in their employees, as well as providing platforms for us, as women, to have our voices heard.

For the future, I would like to see all women around the world given equal opportunities, respect, and rights in their working environments, and for all companies to support the empowering of women.

To all the women in GMG and around the world, we can always remind one another, WE are making a difference and WE have the power to define who we are.

Ana Espana Diaz, Project Engineer, Global Marine Group

Personally, I have not seen any special challenge for being a woman in the workplace. I have been always treated as equal in the Engineering Team.

I have moved recently from Onshore EPC companies to my current position at Global Offshore, Part of the Global Marine Group, and my colleagues and in particular, my manager, have spent time helping my development and monitoring my progression and they are always willing to provide support where needed.

My manager had a great deal of trust in my abilities from the start and challenged me to come out of my comfort zone. I appreciate this tremendously as I feel I have experienced a range of project disciplines over a short period of time, thus resulting in a better understanding and knowledge of the different business areas. This is one of the main reasons I am grateful and motivated to drive my career in GMG.

I am also eternally grateful to my husband who has always supported me, especially at the beginning of this new challenge and for understanding the importance of my career development.

With the opportunities afforded to me, I have been able to change sector and country, applying my knowledge within different backgrounds and quickly adapting to new ways of working. This has been the biggest achievement of my career.

My next step will be to progress in my department and at the same time get my chartership as professional Engineer.

I feel that GMG offers equality in the workplace already, and as I see it, the company and managers trust in the potential of the people, no matter the gender. I really hope that in upcoming years, as more women join my department, they enjoy the dynamic environment and challenging workplace as much I do.

I really hope that the workplace continues in this way, with focus on the ability and potential of people irrespective of gender.

Sheryl Ong, Commercial Manager, Asia, Global Marine Group

In think one of the challenges for women in the workplace is finding the right balance of family/work life. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, women who were primary caregivers, sometimes had flexible work arrangements due to childcare requirements, which sometimes may not have been welcomed by some employers. I think the greatest change in this new decade, thanks to COVID-19, is that flexible work arrangements are now ‘the norm’ and actually embraced by most organisations.

This provides every individual an opportunity to experience what it is like to have flexible working arrangements. Working with children around, managing family logistics, and tending to family needs are now shared amongst family members for many more than before thanks to this new ‘home working’. Some of the challenges faced by us when forced to work from home, are actually the very same challenges for women in the workplace. With flexible work arrangements now being widely accepted, this may perhaps help to ease the challenges faced by women.

One thing I am certain is that opportunities are always out there. Sometimes, they come to you, but at times, you need to hunt for them yourself. The first step is to make your personal goals known, so that others are aware and able to help support you. Next step would be to never stop learning. Always look out for opportunities where you can learn and gain knowledge in new areas. I am very fortunate to have an extremely supportive and encouraging line manager.

GMG places a large amount of emphasis on ensuring there is equality and zero bias / discrimination within the workplace. This includes organising events and activities that are suitable for all genders, offering equal opportunities to one and all, and being a family-friendly workplace by supporting those with children and encouraging families to be engaged in activities together.

In conclusion, I hope for the future that all women can be treated with respect.

Michelle Morgan, Technical Author, Universal Joints, Global Marine Group

In my opinion, women in the workplace face discrimination for a number of reasons, but the main ones are perception, workload and expectations, and quotas.

Perception: There are still many assumptions around female employees, for example that they are led by emotion rather than logic, are less skilled, less interested in advancing, etc. Not only are these assumptions generally wrong, they could apply to anyone, they are not gender specific. Everyone has their own mix of skills, brain wiring and desires in work, and the most successful teams harness all these differences.

Workload and expectations: Workload on women in terms of outside of work can be greater, often still acting as primary carers for older and younger family members, however the work environment does not always recognise this. Their careers are often interrupted/slowed down due to having children, and women around the world are often still sadly paid less than men for the same job.

Quotas: I had an interview once where they said “We have a female engineering working for us at the moment, would you like to meet her?” Oh dear, quota already ticked. We seem to have moved on from those days, especially at Global Marine Group (GMG), although there is still more to do in many other companies globally.

With the above three points in mind, that is why working at GMG is so different. Within my department I have always felt supported and respected, I have never felt questioned due to my gender, or about my ability and the skills I can bring to our team. I have been supported with flexibility but still with opportunities (and encouragement) to take on more responsibilities.

I have even had to opportunity to work on secondments – being borrowed by other departments based on my skills – which is one of my greatest professional achievements.

Two secondments in particular stand out – creating a capacity planning model to help understand the loading and providing the ability to plan a busy factory’s production as the company didn’t have a full MRPII system.

The second was a mass of mathematical modelling to calculate LNG loss from Boil of Gas for LNG shipping routes, comparing, and evaluating for a client what size and combination of vessels would be required to transport the contracted amount of LNG per year. I like challenging puzzles that do not feel like work; and being recognised outside your department is very rewarding.

In order to improve equality, people must have a greater understanding on the true meaning of equality and unconscious bias. It takes time to change preconceptions but recognising you have them, and making a plan to reduce them, is the first step. Having people in leadership roles mentor and champion women and showing you know women can add to the dynamic of the business, are equally important. Both men and women working together leads to great things (one is not better than other!) so you need to regularly review to ensure there are no gender or other inequality pay gaps.

GMG has a few role models in higher positions and recent promotions within the business, including the new female MD of OceanIQ, show opportunities are there if you want them. The company also has a number of engagement activities which help break down any general feelings of inequality. These include: new starter breakfasts with the CEO – being able to talk in small groups about your role and background, the internal communications ‘shout-outs’ giving little windows into what the other departments do and who they are made up of, and the break out areas, giving opportunity to sit for lunch with anyone at any level within the business (prior to the pandemic).

In the future, I hope we can irradicate this focus on ‘quotas’ – all jobs need to be awarded to the best candidate to complete that role. Everyone has different talents, strengths and weakness, and we should all know by now that these are not defined by appearances/physical differences. I think we need to work towards capability assessments for each role which rank the skills required to help measure people evenly on what abilities they bring to the team.

I hope the current momentum towards flexible working for everyone will lead to the ability to progress at work being based on a person’s performance, which should be evaluated on quality of output not hours sat at a desk. We all need to redefine the measures for success and performance, which in turn should help the work-life balance for everyone.

And finally, I hope that when someone attends a meeting, there are no assumptions of people’s job roles based on their appearance, and that each voice at the table is listened to, no matter their role.