Is there a more male-dominated industry than shipmanagement? Can more women get into senior positions?
Shipmanagement does appear to have a glass ceiling problem. Take a look at the CEO level positions of managers across the world and it is clear that this is an overwhelmingly male-led sector. Indeed, most of the biggest names in the business have never had a woman in the corner office, some whose histories date back more than a century.
“It is a chicken and egg story as women cannot develop more executive experience as they are not given the opportunity to do so, and the criteria of having sailing experience is still used to discard women’s candidatures,” says Caroline Huot, senior vice president for shipmanagement at Delta Corp.
While there are a few more women at sea, sailing experience is not the only factor or requirement necessary to successfully manage a company, Huot points out. A shipmanager is a services provider and there are plenty of women with enough technical, commercial and management skills to qualify for top positions, she says.
Karin Orsel, the CEO of Netherlands-based MF Shipping Group, is actively involved in several initiatives to improve diversity in shipping.
The International Chamber of Shipping will soon launch a diversity toolkit and diversity tracker in which companies can commit themselves and be guided on which step to take in order to achieve a more diversified team.
“We all speak for years that we agree that a diversified industry is the only way forward, I am confident that this toolkit will be beneficial,” says Orsel, a former president of WISTA International.
Next to the toolkit, Orsel says it is important for shipping and shipmanagers to look critically at themselves and change the way the industry recruits.
“We sometimes are too narrow-minded and focus on our inner circle and on what is known to us,” she says, going on to stress that diversity is not just the male – female discussion but diversification in the broader sense.
Shipping as a whole still has a diversity issue. Barely one in four c-suite positions in shipping are held by women, a study published in November last year revealed.
The Diversity Study Group’s shipping survey polled more than 3,000 people across the world covering many strands of the business including owners, operators, managers and charterers.
The survey confirmed a significant lack of ethnic and female representation at senior levels of the sector.
The data showed 27% of C-suite positions are currently held by women, dropping to 14% for the heads of department level.
Heidi Heseltine, co-founder of the Diversity Study Group, commented: “Other sectors are making considerable investments in time and resource as they adapt their business strategies to foster a more inclusive workplace culture. If shipping fails to do so, it risks falling behind at a time when DEI (diversity, equality, inclusivity) has become essential to building a resilient and relevant sector, one that can thrive and progress. It is clear that shipping’s next generation cares about DEI issues. Shipping is also competing with other sectors for the same people, so it is essential that we can offer meaningful, inclusive, and fulfilling career destinations.”
This is one of the articles from Splash’s recently published Shipmanagement Market Report. Readers can access the full magazine for free by clicking here.