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Soneva unveils ambitious female employment target in the Maldives

March 9, 2018 Resort News No Comments Email Email

Soneva, the world-leading luxury resort operator, has announced plans to increase the number of females employed at its two properties in the Maldives. Specifically, Soneva aims to achieve a target of 15 per cent female employees at Soneva Fushi (currently at 9 per cent), and 30 per cent at Soneva Jani (currently at 20 per cent) by 2020.  

To help attract more women to work at its resorts in the Maldives, Soneva has released this short video.

Although the numbers may appear low by international standards, they are well above the national average in the Maldives, and a large proportion of the women employed at Soneva resorts are Maldivian Nationals. According to the 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.  The tourism industry is traditionally an area dominated by males, with approximately 10% –  13% of the total people employed in this industry being female, which includes expatriate labour. As a result, the unemployment rate for female adults in the Maldives is approximately three times higher than that of males.

This is partly because of limited Government policies to ensure equal employment opportunities, but also because cultural sensitivities can sometimes make it difficult for women to work on different islands or resorts, as they often have to be away from their families due to limited childcare facilities or other barriers.

In order to reach its targets for women’s employment, Soneva is implementing the following measures:

  • 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

During the opening of Soneva Jani in 2016, Soneva held recruitment drives on local islands throughout the Maldives, where they sat with groups of local women to address concerns they had about their daughters or sisters working for Soneva. The resulting initiatives Soneva adopted were largely the outcome of these 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.”

Sonevas Womens Apprenticeship Programmes offers women the opportunity to join Soneva in traditionally male dominated trades such as Engineering and Housekeeping and not only provide them with practical work experience at the resorts, but also sponsor 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.”

“As a Company, Soneva is a pioneer of new initiatives and our ambitious plans for Women in Soneva now and in the future will ensure our reputation as the employer of choice for women, not only in the Maldives, but also within all countries in which we operate.   Of course, we cannot forget the contribution and commitment of the talented gentlemen within our resorts too,” she added.

Host profile

Read the story of our Resort Manager at Soneva Jani, Fatimath Shaazleen, on being a woman, a mother and a Maldivian in a senior management role.

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