Number of women occupying management roles reaches 41% at Panama’s Manzanillo International Terminal

With a personnel policy focussed on staff development and internal job rotation with equal opportunities, the Panamanian terminal operator MIT has more than doubled its percentage of women managers from six senior managers in 2003 to thirteen today.

31st October 2018

By the second quarter of 2018, the number of women appointed as senior departmental managers at Manzanillo International Terminal Panama S.A. (MIT) reached the forty one percent mark, which include yard operations, security and protection, gate operations and docker dispatch.

Asked about this important transformation in gender equity, MIT's Training and Development Manager Susibel Perigault explains:

MIT's Training and Development Manager Susibel Perigault

"The change has not only just been about making a break from the taboo of employing women in typically male-dominated roles at the terminal. Once they were in those positions, many have been progressively trained and developed to occupy other roles which prepared them for a senior managerial position."

Susibel herself commenced her own career in the terminal planning department, continuing as Assistant Manager before being progressively promoted to Planning Manager and then Training and Development Manager over a fifteen year period. Similarly, the current Claims, Health and Safety Manager Gina Johnson commenced her MIT career in the documentation department before taking a role in safety and then as process and claims head before being promoted to her current position. The current Security Manager Gilda Soto, who is set to retire, commenced her working life at MIT as an administrative assistant.

Manzanillo International Terminal is also an innovator in terms of employing women in quayside operational roles, in which inclusivity and the support from senior management played a key role . Susibel takes up the story :

"Five years ago, we spoke with the Vice President of Operations who wondered whether we might consider bringing women into operational roles as well. We then sat down with the Gantry Crane Fleet Manager and mapped out the right profile for this high pressure, productivity focussed role- a colleague who would be committed, precise, with proactive attitude and an ability to work under pressure. Liduvina Joseph was a female colleague who had experience as Logistics Coordinator and then Supervisor as well as having worked as traffic control operator. Her two supervisors spoke of her as someone who was confident and enthusiastic to get involved in physical operations, so when we offered the post she accepted with a smile and immediately got to work training alongside her male colleagues."

Liduvina Joseph, MIT's first gantry crane operator at work

Liduvina, whose retired father was a Heavy equipment operator at a terminal, got great support from both colleagues and her new supervisors. The first time she climbed into her gantry crane cabin, her fear was not operating from the height of 39.8 meters, but of making an error. Her concern was not observed by her supervisor who was impressed by that very first day. Since then, Liduvina has developed into a highly productive gantry crane operator, working up to 277 effective hours in a three month period of speeds up to 25 container moves per hour in her first year.

Operating at a height of 39,8 meters, Liduvina Joseph is one of 7 women operators of crane equipment at MIT

In terms of quayside operations, the number of female operators at MIT has increased to 7 women either operating or maintaining the 19 cranes at the terminal. In addition, a majority of new positions to remotely manage the new fleet of automatic stacking cranes have been occupied by women. These cranes work with RFID technology and state-of-the-art software to optimise the location of containers in the yard.

Women Maritime

Asked about the next steps ahead for MIT's policy of gender equity and inclusivity, Susibel commented :

"The achievements we have made have been due to a policy and ethics code which considers any form of discrimination as contrary to our values. We see inclusivity not only from the viewpoint of gender equity, but also in terms of the importance of diversity in ethnic, social and religious backgrounds as well as giving chance to persons with disabilities. Ultimately the selection criteria for any position at our terminal is determined, with proper training, by capabilities to meet the demands of a job and the commitment by colleagues to support the selected candidate."

A recent employee engagement survey has indicated a seventy percent level of staff either satisfied or very satisfied with the current working environment at MIT. The survey is very broad as it looks at trust, peoples' own jobs, leadership, working atmosphere, communications, work conditions and satisfaction.

Examples of employee engagement include a recent Health Festival in which MIT celebrated the Safety Health and Environment Day on 28th April. The event saw employees and their families being offered free medicals for blood pressure, BMI body weight and nutrition as well as massages and eye examinations. Informal sessions were held on injury prevention and recycling with recreational games for the kids, a small arts and crafts market and a comedy podium.

Aside from local diversity with the vast majority of staff being recruited locally, MIT also employs people from a wide-ranging background including Afro-Caribbean women from Caribbean nations such as Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and Aruba.

Gender equality is one of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that underpin IAPH's World Ports Sustainability Program. Since 2012 IAPH has been running a Women's Forum which seeks to empower women in the port sector through a dedicated scholarship program and other initiatives. IAPH Managing Director Patrick Verhoeven comments :

"The key to MITs success has been its application of its Code of Ethics in practice, which should in turn provide inspiration to all our other IAPH members and ports. The selection of the theme, "Empowering Women in the Maritime Community" by the IMO for its World Maritime Day in 2019 re-emphasises the importance of placing this issue at the top of our agendas for the coming decades. Recruiting and developing talented people of all gender, ethnic and religious backgrounds to the port community will ultimately shape the future of the industry."

About the World Ports Sustainability Program (WPSP)

On 12 May 2017 the International Association of Ports and Harbors decided to set up a World Ports Sustainability Program. Guided by the 17 UN SDGs the program wants to enhance and coordinate future sustainability efforts of ports worldwide and foster international cooperation with partners in the supply chain. The World Ports Sustainability Program The World Ports Sustainability Program covers five main areas of collaboration between IAPH member ports : resilient infrastructure, climate and energy, safety and security, community outreach and port-city dialogue, governance and ethics.

WPSP Contact : Victor Shieh, Communications Partner

Email :

Tel : +32 473 980 855

MIT Contact : Juan Carlos Croston, VP Marketing and Corporate Affairs

Email :

Tel : +507 430-9973