"You have to work harder to prove yourself"

BOURBON has set up an Diversity, Equity & Inclusion committee, dedicated to promoting diversity, equity, inclusion and multiculturalism within the Group. This committee defines strategic priorities, develops action plans and supports their implementation at all levels. As part of its work, we offer you portraits of women employees, both onshore and offshore, who share their experiences as women working in a traditionally male-occupied sector... Today, let’s meet Justine Porquet, Operational Excellence Deputy Manager at Bourbon Marine & Logistics.

Can you introduce yourself?

Justine Porquet: I'm 31 years old, from Gignac, near Marseille (South of France). I've been Operational Excellence Deputy Manager at BML since July 2022, and this is my first position at Bourbon. I have an engineering degree in environment and water treatment from Limoges, as well as a diploma from the IAE de Limoges (Institut Universitaire de Management), which I took so as to to gain a more cross-functional view of the company, and not to dedicate myself solely to research.

What was your previous career path at BOURBON?

J. P.: After graduating in engineering, I started out as Safety and Environment Manager in a slaughterhouse, a position I chose because it offered the prospect of permanent employment. However, I only left after 10 months.

I then obtained a fixed-term contract as QHSE manager in an industrial maintenance company, then in a company specialized in scaffolding and insulation in industrial environments, where I stayed for 4 years before being hired by BOURBON.

Is it a male-dominated profession? Are women under/over-represented? Or is there a balance?

J. P.: In HSE, it's about 50/50, but the male/female ratio depends mainly on the sector of the industry concerned. In some industries, men predominate, and in industry in general, HSE is a way of integrating women into industries where women are generally under-represented.

HSE isn't a particularly physical job, and it's above all office and field work, which is why there are more women in this profession than in other industrial trades.

In some industries, where the "site" and "factory" atmosphere predominates, working conditions can be very tough and intense, as can human relations, and in this case it makes no difference whether you're a woman or a man.

Does being a woman have an impact on your work? Is it more of an asset / a facilitator or, on the contrary, an obstacle?

J. P.: It's clearly an advantage, because women bring a "sentimental" effect, more affect, male colleagues (especially manual workers or other factory or site workers) find it easier to confide in each other, to open up, women bring a more human side. It's sometimes easier for a woman to obtain information, without conflict. Faced with us, our male colleagues are often more formal.On the downside, you need to have a certain amount of character to assert yourself on construction sites. You need to be able to react to jokes that are sometimes considered inappropriate, and to have a sense of humor.

I've never experienced disrespect, just clumsiness or inappropriate humor.

I've built up friendly relationships with some former colleagues, based on a sort of mutual protection relationship; there has sometimes been a strong attachment and I've kept in touch with some of them. The men I've met are like "big teddy bears", in the end very sensitive and endearing.

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you were made to feel that you were being addressed in a particular way because you were a young woman (in both positive and negative senses)?

J. P.: The answer is yes, in both positive and negative senses.

For example, when I started out in one of my jobs, one of the managers asked me straight out to go and make him a coffee, and I told him I'd like one too. He was embarrassed and went off to make his own coffee.

Generally speaking, you may have to work harder to prove yourself when you're a woman, but once you're "in the game", you're respected as an equal.

Of course, there are always a few inappropriate remarks like "she's on her period" on a day when you're in a bad mood, that sort of thing, remarks, hurtful things, against the other women in the company too (inappropriate and sometimes downright sexist remarks about looks).

Injustices played a part in my departure, including the lack of respect towards women. For my part, I'm not necessarily talking about gender "equality". I don't deny the differences. But I do insist on real gender "equity".

How would you compare your experience as HSE Coordinator at Bourbon with your previous positions/experience?

J. P.: Restful in all respects, people are good listeners compared with my previous experiences, in previous companies where the battle was perpetual.

Bourbon is a company that cares about the well-being of its employees.

The values are conveyed by the management, who listen.

At BOURBON, the atmosphere is wiser, very correct, sometimes too much so! Relations are much less head-on, and sometimes less spontaneous. It's very hushed, more politically correct, whereas on a construction site, everything is unfiltered!

Would you recommend a career in the marine / O&G industry to young women with the same profile / skills as you?

J. P.: Not necessarily on the vessels, because there's too much proximity, which can be complicated to manage. Two months without a decompression chamber would be difficult for me. On the other hand, I'd say to the girls: dare to go out into the field, because it's a formative experience and you need to be in contact with the workers, the men in the field.