ICS launches Charter to drive diversity, inclusion in shipping on International Women’s Day

The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), representing over 80% of the world merchant fleet, on March 8 launches its inaugural Maritime Diversity and Inclusion Charter on International Women’s Day (IWD).  

The Charter has been created to encourage shipping companies to improve and annually review their diversity and inclusion practices and create opportunities for all, irrespective of their gender, race, ethnic origin, nationality, disability, age, sexual orientation, gender identity or religion. The 2021 Seafarer Workforce Report notes that less than 2% of seafarers are women. 

It was developed over 18 months, in partnership with the ICS Diversity Panel and Women’s Panel, made up of representatives from shipping companies, charities, and unions around the world, and has received input and support from the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF). 

Karin Orsel, CEO MF Shipping Group, Chair of ICS Diversity Panel, commented: “I was one of the only women in the maritime sector when I joined at 23. The industry has made many improvements since then, but it still has a long way to go. We developed the Maritime Diversity and Inclusion Charter as a guiding light to inspire shipping companies to do better for all employees.” 

The Charter is designed to be a customizable online tool for shipping companies. Users can choose from a number of actions, pledges, and monitoring and reporting metrics that they are prepared to undertake.   

For example, companies can commit to appointing a lead on diversity to provide visibility and drive key actions or to track promotion opportunities given to monitored groups defined by age, gender or ethnicity.    

The launch is in conjunction with ICS’s IWD campaign #ThisIsWhataSeafarerLooksLike, celebrating and showcasing the broad roles women fulfil in the maritime sector from cadet to CEO. 

This year’s theme is #BreakTheBias, developed to challenge stereotypes across society. The ICS produced a short film to highlight the increasing diversity within maritime as the sector is no longer restricted to a limited section of society. 

In the video Zimvo Lugadlalala, a South African Deck Hand Bow Cecil with Odfjell, remarked: “Breaking stereotypes in maritime means stepping up and doing my job. If questions like ‘will you manage?’ are asked to me, I answer them by performing my job effectively and efficiently. I do not answer them by words… The maritime industry is changing for good because it accommodates all genders.” 

Natalie Shaw MBE, ICS’s Director of Employment, remarked: “It has never been more important to provide a safe company culture in which equality, fairness, and respect are incorporated into policies and behaviors.  

“This Charter aims to recognize the efforts of many, while providing guidance for those who still have work to do and we welcome the commitment of shipping companies in creating a more diverse and inclusive sector by signing up to the Shipping Industry Diversity Charter. 

“Shipping is one of the most culturally diverse industries on earth. It’s high time that we make concerted efforts to create space to attract people who previously may have not considered the opportunities available in such an exciting sector. It is great to see the growing diversity in maritime, as the #ThisIsWhatASeafarerLooksLike campaign showcases.” 

Photo credit: iStock/ Suphansa Subruayying

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