Maritime UK, the umbrella body for the maritime sector, has welcomed Associated British Ports (ABP), the UK’s leading and best-connected port operator, as the latest business to join the Diversity in Maritime Charter programme.
ABP has commenced its Diversity in Maritime Charter journey with two of its regions, Southampton and East Anglia, which have been particularly successful in implementing initiatives to attract a more diverse workforce. Twenty volunteers from across the business also helped create a grassroots-led action plan for further improvement, which the company is hoping to roll out across all of its locations.
In July 2019, ABP was the first UK port operator to provide female personal protective equipment (PPE). The move represented a great step in ABP’s efforts to support the role of women in maritime, whilst also further improving safety standards and choice for its workforce. In line with its commitment to increase the number of female hires, in 2020, women represented 57% of ABP’s graduate intake and the company appointed four women into senior management roles.
The Charter journey is a major undertaking as it holds organisations accountable for closing the diversity and inclusion gap. To become a Charter organisation, there is a requirement for businesses to share baseline data including the total proportion of women in their workforce and in areas including middle and senior management and to set target data for either five or ten years. 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.
The Charter is a pivotal initiative in the Diversity in Maritime programme. Eleven organisations are now Charter organisations: 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.
Charter companies 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 Pledge. Over 120 companies have now been signed the statement of intent to demonstrate commitment to making progress on diversity.
Alison Rumsey, ABP Chief Human Resources Officer and Maritime Skills Commissioner, said: “At ABP, we are committed to building a more inclusive, diverse and open working community, so that colleagues can be themselves at work every day. I am incredibly proud of the progress we’ve made so far and look forward to continuing to build on these strong foundations in future.”
Sue Terpilowski, Co-Chair of the Diversity in Maritime Taskforce said: “I am proud to celebrate ABP becoming the latest company to join the Charter family and shining a spotlight on two of their regions, Southampton and East Anglia. Women’s equality cannot wait, and we believe achieving a balanced workforce at all levels in the maritime sector will undoubtedly improve culture, behaviour, outcomes, profitability and productivity. We look forward to welcoming other companies into the programme.”
Ben Murray, Director of Maritime UK said: “We are very pleased to see ABP take this important step on their journey to creating a more inclusive working environment. As a major employer in the sector, their progress will really help move the sector forward. We’re 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.”