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Shipping company employees want action not words on DEI

Photo: DSG Heidi Heseltine founder of Diversity Study Group
Shipping is making progress on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) but the majority believe their employer could do more to achieve a diverse and inclusive workplace.

The Diversity Study Group (DSG) 2023 Annual Review reveals the results of a survey of over 2,500 maritime professionals, spanning 99 nationalities and six continents working in the shoreside of the global shipping industry. Heidi Heseltine, Founder of DSG, presented the findings of the report at Seatrade Maritime Crew Connect Global in Manila last week.

In terms of gender the survey showed a clear improvement of the split to 52.2% male and 45% female in 2023 compared to 56.8% male and 41.8% female in the previous year’s study. In the lowest four of six levels of seniority the proportion of females had passed the key 30% barrier.

However, at the leadership level DSG described the number of women in leadership roles as “poor” and in technical roles the proportion of women had actually declined in 2023.

There was also some improvement seen in terms of shipping being ethnically diverse with the proportion of leadership roles held by people who are white is falling, from 69.5% to 61%. The number Asians in C-Suite or head of department roles increased to 31.7% compared to 25% previously.

In mid-level roles people who are white and Asian continue to dominate although the percentage from other ethnicities did climb to 13.2% from 7.7%. However, DGS said the figures were “not compelling”.

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“We can see welcome progress in a number of key areas, such as gender, age and ethnic diversity, where the ‘the waiting room for talent’ at junior and mid-level ranks now seems to be delivering greater diversity at mid-level and management roles,” commented Heseltine.

“There is no room for complacency though, as progress is limited in other areas, such as the decline in female representation in technical roles, or the lack non-white, non-male representation in leadership roles.”

Respondents also indicated a clear desire for improvement on DEI with 54% saying their employer could do more to achieve a diverse and inclusive workplace. A marked shift was seen in the survey towards calls for action, rather than planning, thinking or talking about it.

Heseltine said: “The results seem to show growing impatience for meaningful action from employees, who want to see DEI policies and programmes properly resourced and enforced. This is where leaders need to strike the right balance between listening to people, thinking about what works for their organisation, then committing to delivery. When it comes to this challenge, we couldn’t improve on one of the most succinct answers we received in the survey, which gave us the title of this report: “Listen, act.”

Two areas were seen as critical in effective leadership in DEI by DSG. First was that diversity in the organisation’s leadership needed to be more visible, and second, the leadership’s commitment to action must also be visible.


TAGS: Europe