News: First companies gain UK Women in Maritime Charter certification

Maritime UK has announced the first four companies to gain Charter Company certification as part of the Women in Maritime programme.

In September, Maritime UK launched the Women in Maritime Charter as the centrepiece of its efforts to boost gender diversity across the maritime sector. Companies were invited to come forward to pilot the charter process, and four pilot companies have now completed the process, by formally agreeing their action plans at a panel meeting hosted at Norton Rose Fulbright on Monday (13 May).

The companies are Bruntons Propellers, Shoreham Port, Fleetwood Nautical Campus and MFB Solicitors. Each company has been supported through the process and in crafting their actions plans by a ‘Charter Champion’, who attended the panel meeting. The Champions were Julie Lithgow, Director at the Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers, Janet Porter, Chair of the Lloyd’s List Editorial Board, Susan Cloggie-Holden, Chief Officer at the Royal Fleet Auxiliary and Ana De Miguel, Head of Maritime Career Promotion at the Department for Transport.

The Women in Maritime Pledge has now been signed by 110 companies, a statement of intent to demonstrate commitment by companies to making progress on gender diversity.

To gain certification companies must share their baseline data including the total proportion of women in the company and in areas like senior management. Companies then set out targets for either five or ten years. The targets form a large part of individual company action plans, which also include commitments by the company to implement specific projects and initiatives, as well as by the Taskforce to provide support to each Charter Company.

Individual projects included within the first set of action plans include delivering unconscious bias training, committing to make use of the Women in Maritime interview pool and offering staff the opportunity to attend Maritime UK’s public speaking workshops.

Sue Terpilowski, Chair of the Women in Maritime Taskforce said: “Today we’ve seen four pioneering companies agree bespoke actions plans with the Women in Maritime Taskforce. Each has set targets and agreed to implement specific, proven initiatives, to boost diversity within their companies. We salute their leadership and thank them for helping us develop a credible Charter framework for moving our sector forward.”

Harry Theochari, Chair of Maritime UK said: “We were determined that our diversity programme would be robust and meaningful, and the product of this pilot process is exactly that. We look forward to continuing to work with our new Charter Companies to deliver these ambitious action plans. To deliver against our ambitions, including Maritime 2050, our sector must have access to a diversity of thought and talent. To thrive, we need to succeed on diversity, and we now call on other companies to seek Charter certification.”

Since its establishment in January 2018, the Taskforce has launched several key initiatives including two new resources on International Women’s Day in March this year. They were created to respond to specific challenges companies have raised in their mission to improve diversity. Namely, too few women speakers at industry conferences and a lack of gender diversity in new recruits.

The first resource is a ‘Speaker Bank’ comprising women speakers. The initiative provides a database of women speakers for panels and conferences. Through its work, the Taskforce heard that many conference organisers claimed that they were unable to identify women to speak on a relevant topic at events. The speaker bank tags speakers with areas of industry expertise. The organisers of London International Shipping Week have committed to promoting the speaker bank to those organising events during the week.

Maritime UK has also started a series of public speaking workshops to help support more women to join the speaker bank.

The second resource launched in March is an “Interview Pool”, which will loan maritime women to companies that may lack diversity on interview panels. Research by the Taskforce identified that more diverse interview panels or panels with HR professionals with diversity training are more likely to recruit a diverse workforce. However, a number of smaller companies in particular highlighted that they do not have access to such recruiters within their staff. The interview pool provides a facility for these companies to access relevant skills and expertise.