Plain sailing for mariners
Hannes Uys, CEO of ship repair company Elgin Brown & Hamer (EBH) Namibia located in Walvis Bay, talks about the rapid progress women are making in the world of shipping.
Women tend to be over-represented in clerical, service and administrative occupations. However, in the shipping industry, traditionally a male-dominated environment, more and more women are entering a range of professions.
Hannes Uys, CEO of Elgin Brown & Hamer said this trend is not limited to the shipping industry, but it is true of many industrial organisations which are seeking to increase diversity in their workforce.
“Times have changed, and especially in globally competitive industries, where world-class standards have to consistently be achieved – such as in shipping – the skills of each and every individual, regardless of gender, have to be nurtured and maximised.
In this way, we believe that EBH Namibia has made significant headway when it comes to setting the trend in empowering women, bridging the gender gap on many levels,” he maintains.
When it comes to recruitment, EBH Namibia firmly upholds fair labour practices, which include training and employing female trades persons to advance in the otherwise male-dominated engineering disciplines within the marine industry.
EBH Namibia operates three privately-owned floating docks in Walvis Bay with a combined capacity of 30,000 ton including a panama-sized dock.
“We support the advancement of women and actively promote non-discriminatory recruitment practices. Ultimately, our recruitment process is structured to attract candidates who have the necessary potential and qualities to fulfil the particular requirements of a job, irrespective of race, religion, gender, political conviction, sexual orientation or disabilities.”
Therefore, at EBH Namibia, it is common to see women doing welding, carpentry and electrical tasks. The company currently employs eight female welders, four female carpenters and two female electricians.
“It is a general sentiment at EBH Namibia that, if you are interested in applying for a job that you are physically and mentally capable of performing, gender should have nothing to do with your entry into the field,” Uys asserted.
The women at EBH Namibia bear testimony to this, and attest to having experienced no issues working alongside their male counterparts.
Elizabeth Mandume, Supervisor: Carpentry, who has been with the company since 2004, said: “I enjoy my work as a carpenter, and the fact that we enjoy gender equality at EBH. The men have no problem working with us, and there is very good communication. In fact, the men share their trade secrets with us and help us to successfully complete projects as a team.” “Helena Veiko, Chargehand: Electrical, has had a similarly positive experience: “I would not change my profession if given a second chance. I am a mother, wife and qualified electrician. My promotion was based on the quality of my work and my qualifications.” Training is a fundamental part of the corporate culture at EBH Namibia, and again, initiatives are not gender-specific, but rather skills-orientated. “All our employees are encouraged to update their skills on a regular basis in order to align their abilities to international standards,” said Uys. Part of EBH Namibia’s shareholding was recently acquired by the DCD Group, becoming a part of the DCD Marine cluster along with sister company EBH South Africa and DCD Marine Cape Town. In partnership with its major shareholder, Namport, EBH Namibia provides the international shipping industry with a full in-house service in all aspects of ship repair. EBH Namibia recently took delivery of a third Panamax floating dock, further boosting the company’s position as a serious global player in the marine and shipping industry.