Gender equality drive at Istanbul ferry company

The EBRD promotes equal opportunities among the Turkish private sector.

Istanbul Deniz Otobusleri (IDO) is one of the world’s largest commuter ferry companies. With 53 vessels carrying around 150,000 passengers each day, IDO plays a key role in the life of Turkey's largest city. Its white ships with their blue logo are as familiar a sight to Istanbul residents as red buses are to Londoners.

In 2011 the EBRD supported the privatisation of the municipally owned IDO by lending US$ 150 million to a consortium of three Turkish firms and one British company to help finance the acquisition.

Creating a level playing field

Another aspect of the EBRD’s involvement in IDO’s privatisation was its support for equal opportunities at the company. During the project’s due diligence, the Bank identified that there were very few women working in the firm. There were only 17 women among the 626 permanent employees, all of whom were office staff. It was agreed to undertake measures to improve this ratio with the assistance of a technical cooperation project funded by the EBRD Shareholder Special Fund. The project, carried out in 2012, sought to promote international best practice and policies regarding equal opportunities and submitted specific recommendations to IDO.

New gender diversity strategy

IDO in turn amended its management policy and drafted a new gender diversity and equal opportunity strategy, and also committed to amending its subcontractor agreements to reflect the changes. In addition, the company restructured and refocused its recruitment process, with the result that the number of its permanent women employees increased by 141 per cent between December 2011 and August 2012 and that of subcontracted employees rose by 56 per cent.