News: Maritime UK welcomes GAC UK to the Diversity in Maritime Charter programme

By: Chrissie Clarke

Head of Diversity and Operations/Secretary to Maritime Skills Commission
cclarke@maritimeuk.org

Maritime UK, the umbrella body for the maritime sector, has welcomed GAC UK as the latest organisation to join the Diversity in Maritime Charter.

GAC UK is part of the GAC Group, a global provider of integrated shipping, logistics and marine services. Established since 1956, the privately owned group employs over 8,000 people in more than 300 offices worldwide, over 20 of which are in the UK.

The Diversity in Maritime Charter is a pivotal initiative in the Diversity in Maritime programme. Signing the Diversity in Maritime Charters commits organisations from across the maritime sector to take a proactive responsibility for closing the diversity and inclusion gaps within their workforce. Twelve organisations are now on the Charter journey including Bruntons Propellers, Shoreham Port, Fleetwood Nautical Campus, MFB Solicitors, Royal Fleet Auxiliary, Hutchison Ports – Port of Felixstowe, IHS Markit, PNTL, Forth Ports and ABP’s Southampton and East Anglia regions and GAC UK.

To become a Charter organisation, businesses must share baseline data regarding the proportion of women in their workforce and across their middle and senior management, and they have to set target data for either five or ten years into the future. It also challenges the organisation to share where they are currently with their equality, diversity and inclusion journey and share any targets they may already have. The targets form a large part of individual company action plans, which also include a commitment to implement specific projects and initiatives. Through the life of the programme, Maritime UK regularly engages with Charter organisations to assess progress and identify areas for new programmes and activity whilst providing a platform to share best practice and challenges with others.

GAC UK was an early adopter of the Women in Maritime pledge, back in 2019, and recently signed the Mental Health in Maritime pledge before achieving full Charter status. The company has made great strides in recent years, putting many gender equality, mental health and wellbeing initiatives into action. Its ambitious charter plan sets out even more objectives in these areas, whilst also addressing LGBT+ and Ethnicity focused targets, with the ultimate aim of becoming a better employer that attracts talented professionals from across the diversity of society. Charter organisations are supported by Maritime UK’s Diversity in Maritime programme and supported by a wealth of resources, toolkits, networks and initiatives including:

  • Diversity in Maritime networks: Four networks, Women, Mental Health, Pride and Ethnicity, were established and expanded on as part of the Diversity in Maritime programme. The networks bring together individuals from protected characteristics, and allies, from across the maritime sector in a safe-space environment to share good practice and discuss barriers faced. The networks are supported by four working groups who create solutions to combat barriers
  • Online toolkit: a continuously updated online toolkit with best practice guides and policies
  • Interview Pool: which loans maritime women to companies that may lack diversity on interview panels. Research by the Women in Maritime Network identified all that more diverse interview panels or panels with HR professionals with diversity are more likely to recruit a diverse workforce. However, several smaller companies 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
  • Speaker Bank: provides a database of diverse speakers for panels and conferences with specific industry expertise.

The first step to becoming a Charter Company is to sign the Women in Maritime Gender Pledge and Mental Health Pledge. The Pledges demonstrate commitment from maritime executives to making progress on diversity and inclusion.

Laura Grizzell, GAC UK’s QHSSE Manager, said

“We are very excited and proud to begin our Charter journey and focus on what we can do as a business to become a more inclusive employer. We are also passionate about working within an industry which understands and cares about the issues facing all sectors of society and does all it can to make both our workplaces and the wider industry accessible to all.”

Herman Jorgensen, GAC UK’s Managing Director, said:

 “It is a great honour for us to be welcomed to join Maritime UK’s Diversity in Maritime Charter, an achievement which underlines our commitment to take tangible steps to optimise the diversity within our organisation, resulting in positive change for the benefit of all. We are committed to encouraging our people and partners to celebrate diversity and to continually review their personal and professional actions and behaviour with regard to matters of equality.”

Debbie Cavaldoro, Co Chair, Diversity in Maritime Taskforce, said: 

“I am delighted to celebrate GAC UK commencing their Charter journey. Diversity and inclusion is not a tick box exercise and is critical to business because it encourages success. The Charter empowers organisations to set targets and developing action plans to assist achieve a balanced workforce at all levels. We look forward to sharing GAC UK’s journey and welcoming other companies into the programme”

Chrissie Clarke, Programme Manager Diversity and Skills, Maritime UK said:

“We are delighted that GAC UK have become the first organisation to join the expanded Diversity in Maritime Charter programme. The Charter is an important step on GAC UK’s journey to creating a more inclusive working environment and their progress will really help move the sector forward. We are all thinking about how we can Build Back Better, and that must include a workforce that reflects the society in which we live – so that everyone can find a place in our sector, and so that our businesses reap the economic benefits that a diverse workforce is proven to unlock."