Braving rough seas

We know that leaving the old ways behind is not always easy. But 2021 research from the Baltic and International Maritime Council (BIMCO) and the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) shows us that if the industry is to survive, we really must make change happen. The report estimates that despite a 46% increase in women at sea since 2015, women still only make up 1% of the maritime workforce.

And with the perfect global storm of ‘quiet quitting’ and a greater push for flexibility and balance in the workplace, if current recruiting practices don’t change, by 2026, the maritime industry could be short of 26,000 employees. Life at sea has got to be made fair - and appealing - to a wider range of candidates.

So, what does that mean for RightShip?

What does it mean for the people we work with?

And finally, what are the steps we’re taking to encourage innovation and diversity, and to embrace those who come with ideas that are different from the way it’s always been done?

In the first instance, we’re making sure that we work with others to share expertise. It’s no good ‘working in a silo’, so that’s why we are a founder member of the All Aboard Alliance, which launched earlier this summer. We’ll be lending our data analysis expertise to this new collective to help them measure and track progress on its aims, which include improving diversity in leadership and improving gender balance at sea.

We’ve also signed up to Maritime UK’s Women in Maritime Pledge - and as part of that commitment, we’ll ensure that we’re putting the voices of our female experts out there in the world - ensuring that diversity is introduced to events and speaking opportunities, and that all male panel opportunities are declined. We believe you must see it, to be it.

We’re also thinking digitally - and socially. The pandemic has brought great change to the way we work, with many of us operating from home, meaning infrequent ‘real world’ interaction. The reality for many of us working in global organisations is that we must figure out how to build trust, make friends and build relationships while we’re online, rather than in the room. Work needs to be meaningful - and enjoyable.

To that end, we’ve been involved in two different innovation drives - the first, a competition in conjunction with the Singapore Maritime Foundation, A.P. Møller Maersk and PSA Cargo Solutions, which asked Singaporean students to come up with a way to tackle digital disconnect. The other, a broader innovation lab with five other key partners, is designed to promote diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in the maritime industry.

So, we’re putting ourselves out there. We have articulated our own DEI targets around gender and generation and embedded these into our highest ranking KPIs, agreed with our shareholders. We’re pushing for change, and slowly, but surely, I’m confident that we’ll get there.

Why does it matter what we do, though? Well, I think these actions are important because they feed into the messages we present to others.

Our Crew Welfare Self-Assessment tool is coming up to its first anniversary and by now impacts more than 5,500 vessels (and growing) through the assessments submitted, and hosted, on the RightShip Platform. It’s designed to give ship managers the chance to highlight their best practice in the way they treat the seafarers who work on their vessels.

As we continue to develop the idea, we hope it will also begin to provide a benchmark for others to see those organisations who are leading in this field and perhaps highlight those falling behind. Indeed, diversity could be a future crew welfare element to measure, display and celebrate to transparently highlight those who lead the industry.

If we’re asking our stakeholders who’s willing to hold their hand up and say ‘This is where we are now, this is where we are going, we’re ready for change’ then it’s only right that we hold the same mirror up to ourselves and be ready for the challenges ahead.