*This interview has been published in Maritime Economies newspaper.

1.Are there specific business sectors where women managers can lead?

I don’t believe that any business sectors should be exclusive to either men or a woman because such a system runs counter to gender inclusion and further inculcates gender bias. Moreover, I firmly believe that leadership qualities are not a matter of gender but a matter of aptitude. What is significant is that recent studies are confirming generic differences in leadership styles. Multi-tasking, productivity, consistency, managerial skills and the ability to adapt to new situations are the main characteristics of working women and these lead us to climb the corporate ladder. Organisations headed by women report greater team cohesion, more inclusive communication and more co-operative learning in challenging situations caused by conflict, functional diversity and relocation. This is because women put emphasis on collegiality and bonding. We have inherent qualities of empathy and emotional connection and more than focusing on competition we focus on team-work to better ourselves, others and our work. I also believe that we are better listeners. All this helps to create stronger and more motivated teams. There are studies demonstrating that companies with more women in executive positions attained significantly higher profitability on average than those with low representation. Having said this, I don’t think that all female leaders radiate such abilities or that male leaders lack them. Besides such skills can be taught and I feel that with the right training any organisation can nurture an atmosphere of belonging and where everyone learns from each other. Gender parity in the top management level can lead to thriving enterprises.

2.What is the role of women in today’s society?

Women in today’s society have certainly gained power and influence when compared to the women of yesterday. We have easier access to positions of power carrying substantial decision-making authority and our success in attaining leadership positions speaks volumes. Having said that, there is still far to go until a complete balance between the genders is achieved. According to the Global Gender Gap Report 2018, issued by the World Economic Forum, when it comes to political and economic leadership there is still a long way to go to reduce gender gaps.  Although it is fair to say that women, in the broadest sense have more freedom, this is not true in all cases because prejudice persists.

Women are an integral part of today’s society, and we no longer lag behind men in most study areas and occupations. Gender pay inequalities have been narrowing across the world. However, recent studies provide evidence that the gender pay gap exists because of motherhood. The studies note that childless women have earnings that are quite similar to men’s salaries, while mothers experience a significant wage gap.

I strongly believe that women’s inherent qualities allow for a full-time career and a family at the same time. Women are increasingly taking the reins in more and more companies worldwide and they have established their position as business leaders.

The achievements of women in the maritime industry, particularly in leadership roles, have been very well noted and the recruitment of more women has been encouraged. Despite ingrained stereotypes, there is a growing number of professional women in the maritime industry. The position of women in our society cannot be generalised as throughout the world women receive different amounts of respect. There has been a change but there is still room in eliminating inequality.

3.How can we overcome the business challenges in the 21st century?

We live in rapidly changing times, especially for businesses, there are new opportunities, however, there are also new challenges. Globalisation, technology, borderless business environment, workforce diversity, compliance with all new regulations entering into force, are just a few of the challenges businesses face.  Recognising and overcoming the difficulties is essential for the growth of every enterprise. Flexibility, adaptability, training of employees, reorganisation, updating procedures and policies, amongst others, should assist companies to overcome the challenges and also grow and develop. Creativity and welcoming changes will help entrepreneurs to shape this new business landscape.

4.Can the ongoing crisis affect the economic viability of healthy enterprises?

Enterprises which act upon the opportunities and possibilities for change through innovation in the current volatile and uncertain business environment, will not only survive but they will successfully compete and even flourish in fluctuating economic conditions. Innovation i.e. being able to come up with new ideas to keep operations, products and services fresh is one of the keys to any successful business. In our firm, we quickly realised that in the current day economic scenario, innovation has become a major factor which leads to success and that out-of-the-box-thinking is important to generate new value and also sustain your business. At Gauci Maistre – Xynou (GMX Law Firm) innovation is at the centre of our way of doing things, in our corporate functions, business models and processes. Law firms must learn to innovate to remain competitive, survive in the ever-changing marketplace and ensure that the client’s professional needs are met.