THE International Chamber of Shipping launched its inaugural Maritime Diversity and Inclusion Charter on International Women’s Day 2022.

The charter encourages shipping companies to improve and annually review their diversity and inclusion practices to create opportunities for all.These opportunities should be accessible irrespective of gender, race, ethnic origin, nationality, disability, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, or religion.

The charter was developed over 18 months in partnership with the ICS Diversity Panel and Women’s Panel, made up of representatives from shipping companies, charities, and unions around the world.

The International Transport Workers’ Federation also provided input and support.

MF Shipping Group CEO and ICS Diversity Panel chair Karin Orsel said she was one of the only women in the maritime sector when she joined at the age of 23.

“The industry has made many improvements since then, but it still has a long way to go,” she said.

“We developed the Maritime Diversity and Inclusion Charter as a guiding light to inspire shipping companies to do better for all employees.”

As a customisable online tool for shipping companies, the charter enables users to choose from a number of actions, pledges, and monitoring and reporting metrics they are prepared to engage with.

For example, companies can commit to appointing a lead on diversity to provide visibility and drive key actions, or track promotion opportunities given to monitored groups defined by age, gender, or ethnicity.

ICS director of employment Natalie Shaw said it has never been more important to provide a safe company culture in which equality, fairness, and respect are incorporated into policies and behaviours. 

“This charter aims to recognise the efforts of many, while providing guidance for those who still have work to do and we welcome the commitment of shipping companies in creating a more diverse and inclusive sector by signing up to the Shipping Industry Diversity Charter,” she said.

“Shipping is one of the most culturally diverse industries on earth.

“It’s high time that we make concerted efforts to create space to attract people who previously may have not considered the opportunities available in such an exciting sector.”

The launch is in conjunction with ICS’s International Women’s Day campaign #ThisIsWhataSeafarerLooksLike, which celebrates the broad range of roles women fulfil in the maritime sector, from cadet to CEO.

The ICS also plans to release its Diversity and Inclusion Toolkit for Shipping later this year to guide the industry as it improves policies and practices to meet the needs of the diverse seafarer community.