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First published in ABP's Report magazine – Summer 2020
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Chrissie Clarke, Programme Manager (Skills and Diversity) at Maritime UK, discusses some of the latest progress the maritime sector has made in building a more diverse workforce and some of the resources companies can use to help them along the way.

On Tuesday 5 May, Maritime UK, the industry body for the maritime sector, celebrated a key milestone on the road to achieving greater diversity in the maritime sector by launching its new ‘Diversity in Maritime’ programme.

This is in line with the UK government’s Maritime 2050 strategy, which states that: “The maritime workforce of the future will be diverse. New roles, new technologies and a changing image of the sector will draw in people from all backgrounds across the entire UK.”

“The maritime workforce of the future will be diverse. New roles, new technologies and a changing image of the sector will draw in people from all backgrounds across the entire UK.”

Maritime UK has launched ‘Diversity in Maritime’ in direct response to the flagship strategy’s recommendations, alongside the establishment of the new Maritime Skills Commission. Taken together, these steps will ensure the sector has a continuous pipeline of highly skilled, diverse people across its shipping, ports, services, engineering and leisure marine industries. The UK government has provided £730,000 to boost diversity, well-being and skills in maritime.

A central part of the Diversity in Maritime programme, is the ‘Women in Maritime’ network, established in 2018. The network continues to grow and operate as an open, safe-space community to discuss barriers and deliver a range of gender-focused programmes and initiatives. According to the Maritime HR Association’s 2019 Gender Market Analysis report, which captured data for over 30,000 employees working in shore-based positions around the globe, the number of women working in the sector increased by 7% over the last 12 months.

The Diversity in Maritime programme includes the establishment of networks across diversity challenge areas with two inaugural new groups, ‘LGBT+ in Maritime’ and ‘Mental Health in Maritime’. There are four working groups that support the programme: Retention, Recruitment, Total Package and a new group focusing on Communications and Events. Maritime UK is calling upon individuals in the sector to join them.

On Sunday 17 May, the ‘LGBT+ in Maritime’ network celebrated International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia and shared a blog piece written by its Chair, Danny McGowan, International Organiser, Nautilus International. In addition, the Chair of the ‘Mental Health in Maritime’ network, Stuart Pollard, and Vice Chair, Caitlin Vaughan, have been encouraging the sector to join the new network and share best practice guides during #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek (18-24 May).

“The number of women working in the sector increased by 7% over the last 12 months.”

The Diversity in Maritime programme involves a range of initiatives including ‘The Pledge’, signatories of which make clear their support for creating positive change within their respective organisations, and collectively, across the UK maritime sector. Each pledge signatory has the opportunity to profile their work to improve diversity within their respective organisation. To date over 120 companies have signed the Pledge and Maritime UK is working to increase this number.

The second programme element consists of ‘The Charter’. The Women in Maritime Charter was launched in September 2018 during Maritime UK Week. The Charter creates a framework to challenge companies to make progress on gender diversity and is supported by the network to realise those targets. Charter companies are required to agree an ‘action plan’, setting out individual targets for each participating company. A key commitment is that companies identify a member of senior management responsible for implementation of the action plan as well as distributing a survey to staff on workplace culture. Performance against action plans will be self-assessed via an online portal. Seven companies are Charter Certified, and Maritime UK are looking forward to announcing more Charter companies soon.

Thirdly, there is also a ‘Speaker Bank’, which provides a portfolio of female speakers spanning a range of different roles, levels and sectors across the maritime industry. Maritime UK, with the networks, are now expanding the Speaker Bank to profile people from the maritime sector with expertise on mental health and LGBT+.

In addition to this, an interview pool has been set up to assist maritime organisations by linking them with women already working in the sector who can help them with recruitment by taking part in gender balanced interview panels.

“The networks are now expanding the Speaker Bank to profile people from the maritime sector with expertise on mental health and LGBT+.”

Lastly, there is a wide range of toolkits available in the form of resources designed to help companies make progress against diversity commitments, including case studies, long-term projects and quick wins. Maritime UK is working to update the toolkits to ensure there is a range of best practice guides and resources to assist our sector.

While a lot of positive progress has been made over the past years when it comes to diversity and inclusion in the sector, there is still more that can be done if industry and government continue to work together. If you are an individual who is interested in joining a diversity network or a company willing to share a toolkit, please get in touch.