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The Lloyd’s List Podcast: Why is shipping still not taking Diversity, Equity and Inclusion seriously?

Listen to the latest edition of the Lloyd’s List’s weekly podcast — your free weekly briefing on the stories shaping shipping

The shipping industry has still not fully grasped the importance or the business case for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, known as DEI, despite it being so integral to the structural long-term challenges ahead. Wista president Elpi Petraki and Diversity Study Group founder Heidi Heseltine join the podcast this week to discuss why the industry needs to address its DEI blind spot



EVERY study and every ounce of common sense points to the fact that for any organisation that relies on its people, it should be a strategic priority to broaden your talent pool, enlist a diverse range of skills and perspectives, and make the most of their potential.

Just as countries with more gender equality have better economic growth. Companies with more women leaders perform better.

Shipping has a global talent shortage. We know that.

The structural long-term challenges in the maritime industry requires much better collaboration, it requires new talent and at the heart of that lies an immediate need to make improvements on diversity, equity, and inclusion, known as DEI.

So why is DEI not at the top of the environmental, social and governance agenda? And why in 2023 is it still the case that women represent only 1.2% of the global seafarer workforce?

That is the figure from the last BIMCO/International Chamber of Shipping Seafarer Workforce Report by the way, which depressingly enough was actually a 45.8% increase compared with the 2015 report figure.

In shipping’s boardrooms, the picture is perhaps less pronounced, but no less concerning. Women account for just 29% of the overall industry workforce and the last edition of the Diversity Study Group’s annual report showed clear evidence that there is still a significant lack of ethnic diversity and female representation in senior roles, although representation at lower-level roles was improving.

But we are still not getting even some of basics right.

According to the Diversity Study Group’s last survey which covered a good global sample of shipping companies across the sector, 35.8% of women responded that they do not feel that they can raise discrimination concerns at work or declared they would “prefer not to say”. That suggests there is still reluctance among women to ‘rock the boat’ if they face discrimination.

At sea the issue is even more extreme.  The “shocking” extent of discrimination on board vessels was revealed in a study in the past year that saw 60% of all female seafarers reporting instances of sexual harassment and bullying.

So this week, ahead of International Women’s Day on March 8, Lloyd’s List editor Richard Meade spoke to two experts in the field of DEI to look at some of the progress made but also to ask why the industry is still not taking DEI issues seriously enough.

Joining Richard this week are Elpi Petraki, who was elected president of the Women’s International Shipping & Trading Association in October in the past year.

And Heidi Heseltine, Founder of the Diversity Study Group, which was formed in 2018 and is the first organisation dedicated to DEI in the workplace across the global shipping and maritime sectors. The DSG is the knowledge partner of the Global Maritime Forum’s All Aboard alliance.

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