Crews on Swedish Maritime Administration ships use practical exercises to reflect on issues of gender equality and the social work environment. The Administration’s shipping company director explained this during his talk at the recent SAN conference.
“I am a master myself. I’ve worked on ferries and cargo ships and I’ve always thought that we should try to get more women into the shipping industry. It makes me furious when I hear about young women who are interested in working on board, and who are then insulted by men who don’t even know how to behave,” he says.
Improvement work at the Administration was started last year with the support of Previa occupational health service and the Maritime Administration’s internal HR department. Among other things they arrange courses and workshops for crews, including practical exercises and discussions on harassment and social behaviour. In one of these exercises, groups on two sides of the room represent different viewpoints. The leader reads out a statement and the participants then choose to join the side that best represents their own opinion. They can also stay in the middle if they feel “neither one nor the other”. Examples of statements included in the questionnaire are, “There is gender equality in Sweden” and “There is no sexual harassment or victimisation at the Maritime Administration”.
“I was not present during these exercises, but I know that they resulted in really good discussions. We have got mostly positive feedback from those who took part,” says Peter Fyrby.
He says that work on gender equality at the Maritime Administration has made progress, especially now that practical methods have been found to deal with issues of this type, both at sea and ashore.
“Equality has always been a standing issue at collaboration meetings, but it’s been very difficult to get the right materials to put it into practice. We’ve now started useful discussions through these exercises,” says Peter Fyrby.
He also notes that it is a long-term process and will take time. Not everybody working on the company’s ships has done the exercises yet, and they are also trying to find a way of measuring the real effects of the actions taken.
“We have to have some form of measuring tool to make sure that what we are doing also promotes a better climate of cooperation,” says Peter Fyrby.
Linda Sundgren, text and photo