THE INTERNATIONAL Chamber of Shipping has published its first publication on diversity and inclusion in the maritime industry to aid businesses and organisations with best practice and guidance.

The ICS Diversity and Inclusion Toolkit for Shipping is now available to order and provides resources and guidance to enable maritime businesses to introduce and embrace policies and engage a positive approach to diversity and inclusion issues, with the ultimate goal of boosting business efficiency and improved performance.

The ICS developed the toolkit to create greater awareness of diversity and inclusion and inspire change in strategies, policies and practices to support the maritime industry while addressing the needs of the diverse global community it employs both at sea and onshore.

The ICS said a “global expert group of industry leaders” oversaw and curated the toolkit’s content.

ICS secretary general Guy Platten said: “Effective implementation of diversity and inclusion policies can help shipping companies to recruit from a larger pool of people, retain skilled staff for longer and motivate them more effectively, as well as help to improve relationships with customers and the wider world. A diverse workforce can be a company’s strongest asset.”

Sanjam Sitara of Sitara Shipping, who founded the Women in International Shipping Trade Association (WISTA) in India and is on the board of WISTA International said: “The toolkit deals with all the important issues and gives vital guidance. We need to focus on the business case for diversity and we’re at the stage where everyone is talking about diversity but unless we do studies and prove there’s a business case for it, I don’t think we will see change. Pushing for more women leaders from all backgrounds is vital and will automatically accelerate the change.”

Ms Sitara is also working with the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) as a consultant on various gender related projects and who contributed to the toolkit.

“This toolkit will make a huge difference to both smaller businesses as well as larger organisations which plan to broaden their activities. Users will find it well designed as it’s a ready-made guide,” Ms Sitara said.

ICS diversity panel chair Karin Orsel, who is also a contributor to the toolkit and founder of MF Shipping, said:

“We’re trying to do everything we can to ensure the people that work in our industry feel that they belong. It’s not enough to have the CEO thinking it’s important, you need the whole company to recognise its importance. I think it will take three to five years to see change and be a combination of companies recognising they need to act but the timing of this book, the toolkit, and all that ICS is trying to achieve is a perfect combination to get there.”

The Diversity and Inclusion Toolkit for Shipping provides definitions and explanations of what diversity and inclusion are and provides ways to assess the current needs of diverse communities working within shipping to identify potential gaps in services, policies and practice; and provides best practice on how to fill these gaps.

The guide can be used on shore and on board ships across a range of departments. It breaks down diversity and inclusion concepts and delivers them holistically, function by function, to ensure that everyone in the company can benefit from its resources, learn something new and take practical steps in their role.