10 minutes with Fariyal Khanbabi, Dialight Group CEO

Written by Heather Ervin
Fariyal Khanbabi, CEO of Dialight Group

Fariyal Khanbabi

Fariyal Khanbabi, CEO of Dialight Group, an LED industrial lighting technology company that services the maritime industry among others, talks to us about maritime sustainability, diversity, and more.

Marine Log (ML): What do you think is driving maritime decision-makers’ growing interest in ESG? Why are they concerned with it now?

Fariyal Khanbabi (FK): While there are many factors that can drive maritime decision-makers towards ESG initiatives, one that stands out is the International Maritime Organization. This is an agency of the UN, which has included in its global shipping regulations an ambitious goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions annually by at least 50% by 2050. Pair this with banking frameworks, such as The Poseidon Principles, whose own policies and goals are in line with the International Maritime Organization, and you can begin to see a picture developing of why ESG initiatives are so important for the maritime industry. Without having a proper ESG team and plan in place, it will become increasingly difficult for companies to obtain loans and secure vessel mortgages from any banking institute aligned with these principles.

ML: What are a few trends shaping the ESG landscape in the maritime industry?

FK: Some developing trends shaping the ESG landscape include gender equality and shareholder activism. Many of the ESG initiatives within the maritime industry may focus solely on the environmental aspect of ESG, however, gender equality is a large part of the social aspect as well. The maritime industry has historically been a male dominated industry, which I can attest to having spent my early childhood onboard a shipping vessel amongst a crew mostly consisting of adult men.

As a female CEO, I can speak first-hand to the importance of women in the workforce and in positions of leadership. Not only is gender equality a trend that is important to Dialight and myself, as shown by our recent partnership with the Women’s Earth Alliance, but it is also an important topic for shareholders who continue to display and increased role in environmental and social activism. Many shareholders are now demanding that the companies in which they invest show quantifiable progress towards reducing their environmental impact and increasing their positive contribution to social change.

ML: What technologies or strategies should shipping companies implement to keep up with evolving ESG and environmental regulations?

FK: The shipping industry faces many hurdles on their path to carbon reduction and meeting ESG goals and environmental regulations. One of the fastest and easiest ways to save energy and reduce carbon footprint is switching from legacy lighting technologies like mercury vapor and metal halide, to LED lighting products. LED lights have a far greater lifespan than older technologies, creating less waste, requiring less energy to run, increasing worker safety through increased visibility and reduced maintenance. They also contain no mercury or other toxic materials requiring hazardous disposal. Simply switching to LED Light fixtures can help put shipping companies on the right track to reaching their ESG goals.

ML: How will the implementation of these strategies and tech innovations drive positive change in the global fleet?

FK: Implementation of ESG strategies can be an enormous help for the maritime industry as well as the planet. Looking at ways to reduce carbon emission can put companies in line with the International Maritime Organizations regulations, opening up more opportunities to work with banking institutes and investors who are seeking progressive, forward-thinking organizations. Implementing new technology, like LED lighting, can save the global fleet in energy and maintenance costs as well as open the door to many energy rebate programs for even greater savings. Increasing the quality of the light in potentially dangerous applications can decrease slip, trip and collision accidents, making the environment safer for both onshore and vessel bound workers. Additionally, creating more gender equality in the maritime industry will lead to greater progress for everyone in the global fleet.

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