The 2023 theme of International Women’s Day (IWS) is “Embrace Equity”. Kotug supports IWS and embraces equity, diversity and inclusion. We are committed to contributing to more gender equity in society. This starts with offering the same opportunities for men and women and zero tolerance for gender discrimination. However, gender equity goes further than that; it’s about acknowledging that certain advantages and barriers exist. Improving equity is about redressing that imbalance.
How do we do that at KOTUG? Let’s have a look at our operations in Port Hedland, where we work with employees from differing backgrounds, life experiences and genders, both onshore site and crew, to support our client FMG with our towage activities. “We are indeed a diverse group of people with more women onshore than onboard our vessels,” says Becky Poole, site administrator at KOTUG Port Hedland (Australia). “And it’s not just that, but all the differences people have, which requires a working environment where people can safely speak up when things need to be said.” This does not always go by itself, and the remoteness (the management is based in Perth, 1,800 km from Port Hedland) makes it even more challenging.
Introducing an Employment Assistant Program
Therefore, Kotug introduced an Employment Assistant Program (EAP) of Hunterlink, a quarterly workshops program with its staff and management to assist all staff in various areas of workplace behaviour, diversity and other associated programs. The workplace program is designed to assist employees to help employees deal with issues that may affect their work performance and well-being. Jenelle Connors from Hunterlink, a qualified clinical psychologist and accredited mediator, coach and trainer, pays quarterly visits to both Perth and Port Hedland to address these challenges. Hunterlink also provides various mental health services and recently completed a program of mental health first aider training to a number of staff. Kotug has been using the services of Hunterlink since 2016 across its Australian fleet.
“We aim at proactivity instead of waiting until crisis point” says Jenelle Connors. “Reaching out when needed is highlighted and encouraged. Normalising the unique issues that can arise in your industry and any challenges faced in terms of diversity and equity opens up the employee’s mind as to how to handle certain situations”
Becky Poole about the programme: “Jenelle taught us to be more open; we all feel that making more connection by being more open makes the difference and nurtures trust. It feels as a good commitment from management to have an eye for this, and we felt a change, the working environment is nicer, and we know how to empower each other.”
Get out there and have a go
There are still more men than women working on board worldwide. Annette Brewer, Tug Master at Kotug hopes she can be an example for women to follow in the same role. “Strong women have influenced myself to believe I can achieve anything as long as you have a go and don’t give up. One of the challenges many women face is the work-life balance with regard to having children, making it difficult to pursue their careers further. I hope my journey and fight to get where I am today, will make it easier for women to follow into the same role. Get out there and have a go, would be my advice! And, if one door closes, there are plenty more doors; keep on knocking!”
Darren McCormick (Managing Director of Kotug Australia): “Addressing diversity, inclusion and managing unconscious bias and assumptions, effective communication in the workplace, company culture and teamwork allows Kotug as an organisation to proactively equip our employees in being the best in terms of gender equity and knowing how to support everyone as an individual within the workplace.”