Soneva unveils aspiring female employment target in the Maldives by 2020
One of the world’s leading resort operators Soneva has announced plans to increase the number of females being employed at both of their properties in the Maldives. Soneva aims to achieve a target of 15 percent female employees at Soneva Fushi (currently at 9 percent) and 30 percent at Soneva Jani (currently at 20 percent).This target is specifically aimed to be achieved by the year 2020.
The current numbers of female employees by percentage may appear low by international standards. However, they are well above the national average in the country with a large proportion of women being employed at the Maldivian Soneva properties being Maldivian Nationals. According to UNDP, the Maldivian Government is currently the largest employer of women in the Maldives, with 62% males and 38% females, followed by the education sector. In most countries across the world, the tourism sector is traditionally dominated by males, with approximately only 10% - 13% of the employed being females, which includes expatriate labour. As a consequence, the unemployment rate for female adults in the Maldives is as high as three times than that of males.
This is partially due to limited Government policies to ensure equal employment opportunities, but also because of some cultural sensitivities, it can sometimes cause difficulty for women to work in different islands and resorts, as they often have to divert their devotion, time and attention from their families due to limited childcare facilities and as such in the resorts.
In order to reach their targets for women’s empowering and employment, Soneva is implementing the following guidelines:
- To offer female-only accommodation quarters and facilities
- To provide at least one female-only activity per month for employees
- To welcome female employees in senior positions who have families and children to live with them on-site
- To offer gender awareness training for all employees
- To run women’s apprenticeship programmes, to give more women the chance to find suitable roles within Soneva and the tourism industry
- To cover the cost of unlimited online job development training through Massive Open Online Courses *this is offered to all male and female hosts
- To welcome family members of female hosts to visit the resorts and feel comfortable about the accommodation and working areas. They are also invited to talk to the management to discuss any questions or concerns they may have.
- To implement strong structures, processes and training in the areas of appropriate behaviour and a zero-tolerance for harassment
Soneva had held recruitment drives on local islands throughout the country during the opening of Soneva Jani in 2016, addressing the concerns of locals regarding their daughters or sisters working for Soneva. The discussions took place with representatives from Soneva sitting with them to address the matters as closely as possible. The resulting initiative of today, was largely inspired by the outcomes of the same discussions.
“Gender balance is very important for the success Soneva,” said Sonu Shivdasani, Founder, CEO and Joint Creative Director of Soneva. “Increasing the level of female hosts at our resorts in the Maldives is a key priority and is in line with our ethos for being socially and environmentally responsible. It is our job to ensure that our female employees are treated equally, and it is part of our work to help and support women in the local community.”
Soneva’s Women’s Apprenticeship programmes offer women the opportunity to join Soneva in traditionally male dominated positions in sections such as Engineering and Housekeeping while not only providing them with practical work experience at resort but also sponsoring them their vocational training.
Soneva’s Group Talent Director, Joanne Bowen, said: “Soneva is committed to promoting equality and diversity within our resorts. We pride ourselves on promoting career opportunities for women, setting specific goals for our female employment ratio and launching initiatives that will encourage the current and future generations of women in the Maldives and Thailand to pursue rewarding careers within the hospitality industry.”