The fish farming industry will need many hands and heads in the coming years, said SalMar CEO Linda Litlekalsøy Aase at the “Women in the Sea” conference in Bergen on Thursday.
The conference on diversity and inclusion comes in the wake of the Norwegian government’s announcement that it’s considering imposing a 40-percent tax on salmon aquaculture companies. The announcement wiped off $5.2B in the valuation of listed salmon companies.
SalMar, in particular, lost 30 percent of its market value on Wednesday. But equality is close to the Austevoll woman’s heart, so she is not letting this chance pass her by, she said.
“It was a dramatic day for the industry yesterday, but this is too important not to stand up for, because now we really need everyone,” she said.
Referencing the statue “Fisherman’s wife” (Svolværkvinnen) in Nordland county
who looks out to sea for her husband, Aase said that her father too, worked at sea.
“I grew up on Litlekalsøy, in a working-class family, with a stay-at-home mother and a father who worked at sea. My beautiful strong mother put no limit on what I could become. And I have passed this on to my four daughters.
“I am passionate about equality, diversity and inclusion. Diversity is being invited to the party. But inclusion is being invited to dance,” she said.
Aase emphasized that this is “business” – it has to make money. But she underscored that profitability and diversity can co-exist.
“I firmly believe that diversity is linked to profitability in business. Gender, age, sexuality, competence, functional level ¬– there is so much diversity. In this diversity, we must work to bring in more women. Everyone has to join in,” she emphasizes.
“In SalMar, we need access to talent and resources. In our company, we have 28 percent women, slightly more than the industry I come from, and 35 different nationalities. We are going to farm far into the sea, and we need technology that is more advanced than ever.”
She concluded with some clear advice for the women in the room: “Work hard, have ambitions, be brave, and say it out loud: ‘This is what I want. I want to enter this industry. I want this management position’.”