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Maersk’s hunt for women for its top jobs proves futile


Maersk, the Danish shipping giant grappled with female talent drought since 2020

Jim Hagemann Snabe, chairman of A.P. Moller-Maersk A/S admitted it is challenging to find female talent for their top management positions. Since appointing Henriette Hallberg Thygesen to be a member of the executive board in 2020, Maersk has yet to add another lady to the group.

Shipping remains one of the trickier industries when it comes to gender diversity. “The biggest challenge is that we do not get enough women up through the management system,” Snabe said. He shared Maersk has now “set up goals and plans to ensure that competent women have the courage” to apply for such roles.

Only 14 per cent of maritime professionals in Demark are women. This year, Maersk aims to have a minimum of 35 per cent of its senior managers to be women; an increase of 5 per cent from 2020. Snabe added, “My experience is that they are as skillful, if not more so than their male colleagues. We need to take advantage of that.”

First C-Suite lady
In 2020, Maersk parted ways with its first ever female chief financial officer. Carolina Dybeck Happe, who left to join General Electric Co., had only been with the Danish shipping giant for about a year. Shortly after, Maersk replaced Happe with Henriette Hallberg Thygesen to ensure the group was not all male. Thygesen currently runs Maersk’s fleet and strategic brands unit.

Historically, Maersk has been grooming its leaders from the pool of male trainees. Within the executive board, only Patrick Jany possesses substantial work experience outside the company. Snabe highlighted that future executive bonuses will be linked to environmental, social and governance goals. However, it is unlikely to incorporate gender quality into the incentive structure. “I don’t imagine that we would use gender diversity as a bonus parameter but rather as an assumption for management. The idea is to drive progress through concrete plans instead of bonuses,’ he remarked.



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