Friday, March 8, 2019

Shipping Interests Can Sign Pledges to Defeat Gender Imbalance in Maritime Sector  

Focus is on International Women's Day

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Shipping News Feature WORLDWIDE – UK – In 2018 the Women's International Shipping & Trading Association (WISTA) appointed a Diversity Committee to focus on practical solutions to increase opportunities to address the gender imbalance in the maritime industry. Writing a pledge to challenge the community to advance diversity and inclusion was a mandate of the committee. Now on International Women's Day the pledge has been formally launched.

The pledge addresses the underrepresentation of women in the maritime industry through a series of statements aimed at embracing diversity through individual action and personal responsibility. Individuals are encouraged to sign the pledge in support of a diverse and inclusive maritime sector. The pledge can be found online on the WISTA International website and signing it commits signatories to:

“Embrace diversity of thought (including gender, race, ethnicity, and age) and contribute to a merit-based business environment within my organisation. I will be a champion of equal opportunity and equal pay. My behaviour will reflect how I wish our industry to behave in the future. I will work – and encourage others to work – toward a diverse and inclusive maritime sector.”

WISTA was approved for consultative status with the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in July 2018, providing the organization with a formal voice for supporting IMO work in a variety of areas, and WISTA International President Despina Panayiotou Theodosiou, commented:

“We geared this pledge to individuals, for we feel strongly that individuals have the power to bring about change. We are very proud to promote this pledge to our industry. Our Diversity Committee members wrote this pledge to address the various challenges female professionals confront in our industry and the many ways men can champion and support inclusion and diversity in their workplace.

”Embracing diversity and inclusion is a business decision that no leader in today’s global and competitive marketplace can ignore. Leaders who encourage diversity of thought, including gender, age, race, and ethnicity, know that their teams benefit from a wide variety of experiences and perspectives, which drive innovation and change.”

Around the globe today (8 March) companies are committing themselves to targeting gender equivalence and there is another pledge, launched by Maritime UK, which British based companies have been signing up to since June 2018, and this week it was the turn of Hutchison Ports with Executive Director, Clemence Cheng marking International Women’s Day with a visit to Parliament.

The pledge is part of Maritime UK’s Women in Maritime initiative which addresses the lack of diversity in the UK maritime sector and asks organisations to sign the pledge in order to tackle fairness, equality and inclusion at all levels throughout their business and the industry. Speaking after a ceremonial signing of the Women in Maritime pledge in the House of Commons Library, Mr Cheng said:

“The maritime sector has traditionally been male dominated. Until only a very few years ago there were many roles in the UK ports sector with no significant female presence and women still remain under-represented in many areas. At Hutchison Ports we are committed to improving our gender balance. As well as developing recruitment campaigns specifically targeted towards women, we are reviewing employment practices to see how we can expand flexible working to an increased number of roles.”

Mr Cheng was met by UK Maritime Minister, Nusrat Ghani MP who observed:

”Our maritime sector keeps Britain thriving, but it’s missing out on a wealth of talent. I want to see more women enjoy a career at sea or on shore, and the Women in Maritime pledge is just one fantastic example of the progress being made in this space. It’s great to see companies like Hutchison Ports committing themselves and leading the way to bringing women into roles across their businesses, which will in turn help unlock even greater growth in the sector.”

Photo: Ida Lewis, who made her first successful rescue aged just 12 and went on to save up to 25 souls in her 54 year tenure in Lime Rock lighthouse, Newport. When criticised for it being unladylike to row a boat she retorted: "None – but a donkey, would consider it 'un-feminine', to save lives."

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