A packed audience at Trinity House gathered on May 18, 2023, to celebrate International Maritime Organization’s Women in Maritime Day hosted and sponsored by OCIMF, Trinity House, Maritime UK, and WISTA UK.
The evening brought together professionals from various disciplines within the maritime industry, including a significant presence of men as allies. The event focused on the International Maritime Organization (IMO) for this year, “empowering women” and addressing the need for gender diversity in the industry. It was filled with powerful messages and inspirational stories from all walks of life, emphasising the need for greater diversity in all shapes and forms, inclusion and empowerment in the maritime sector.
The discussions highlighted the progress that has been made, particularly in the transport sector in general, but there was also a recognition that there was a greater need for supporting and empowering an increase of women representation in the maritime career and how to make it more attractive. Collaboration with other industries, primarily construction and railways and the sharing of experiences were identified as crucial steps towards achieving these goals.
Baroness Vere, the Maritime Minister, delivered a powerful message highlighting the importance of recruiting and retaining talented women and men in the maritime industry. This acknowledgement underscored the significance of creating an environment where individuals can thrive and contribute to their full potential.
Petra Wilkinson, CBE, Director of Maritime at the Department for Transport, emphasised the need to maintain the momentum of raising awareness about the fantastic careers available for women in maritime. She highlighted the importance of laying a solid foundation for a prosperous and vibrant sector.
The panel discussion, “Empowering Women in Maritime: Unlocking Opportunities and Driving Change,” brought together distinguished individuals from commercial, charity, and government sectors. The panellists Deborah Layde, The Seafarers Charity, Guy Platten, International Chamber of Shipping, Holly Midwinter-Porter, Mandara Capital, Capt. Karen Davis, OCIMF, Monica Kohli, WISTA UK and Shireen Ali-Khan, Women in Transport, moderated by Sue Terpilowski OBE Image Line, openly shared lessons from their personal experiences and discussed strategies to increase diversity and inclusion within organisations.
Strong leadership, empowering culture and visible support from top executives were identified as crucial factors for successful diversity initiatives. The panelists emphasised that a supportive and inclusive culture is key to creating better workplaces where employees feel a sense of belonging.
Training employees to feel empowered in addressing inappropriate behaviour and fostering team success was another important takeaway from the discussion. The panellists recognised the need to learn from and collaborate with other sectors, such as rail, aviation, finance, construction and logistics, to accelerate progress in achieving diversity and inclusion goals.
The event concluded on a hopeful note with a call for collective action. By creating pleasant workspaces where everyone feels valued and respected and can contribute effectively, the maritime industry can continue its journey towards a more diverse and inclusive future.
The evening’s discussions and stories served as an inspiration for attracting the next generation to pursue careers in maritime. By showcasing the achievements and potential of women in the industry, the event laid the groundwork for a more prosperous and vibrant maritime sector.
Together, we can be the change. Let’s harness the momentum generated by events like International Women in Maritime Day to drive progress within our industry and in collaboration with other male-dominated sectors. Let’s learn from their experiences, share best practices and collectively accelerate the journey towards a more diverse and equitable maritime industry.
The road ahead may not be easy, but with a collective commitment to change, we can create an industry where talent and potential know no boundaries. Let us carry the spirit of International Women in Maritime Day with us, not just for one day but throughout the year, as we work towards a future where women in maritime thrive and the industry as a whole reaps the benefits of true diversity and equality.
As the evening ended, the energy and determination in the room were palpable. The attendees left Trinity House with renewed enthusiasm, ready to be the change and contribute to creating a more inclusive and diverse maritime industry.
The impact of this event will undoubtedly extend beyond its duration, as the discussions and ideas shared will continue to inspire action and shape the maritime industry’s future.
Be the change was the challenge for the attendees. Together, let’s transform the maritime industry into a place where everyone, irrespective of gender, can excel and contribute to its vibrant and prosperous future.