The Seafarers’ Charity joins Diversity in Maritime Charter programme

Maritime UK, the umbrella body for the maritime sector, has welcomed The Seafarers’ Charity as the latest organisation to join the Diversity in Maritime Charter.

The Seafarers’ Charity has the vision to create a world where seafarers and their families are valued and free of need and disadvantage. They’ve been working towards this goal since 1917 when they originally launched as the King George’s Fund for Sailors. Today, The Seafarers’ Charity is an evolving, forward-looking charity – building on past successes but expanding its capabilities to make a genuine difference. Their grant giving to maritime charities brings life-changing impact for many who work – or have worked – at sea, and their families. They seek to reduce hardships experienced by seafarers by enabling environments where, instead, they can thrive, supporting their practical and welfare needs at home, in port and at sea, often far from home.

The Diversity in Maritime Charter is a pivotal initiative in the Diversity in Maritime programme. Signing the Diversity in Maritime Charter commits organisations from across the maritime sector to take a proactive responsibility for closing the diversity and inclusion gaps within their workforce. Fourteen organisations are now on the Charter journey including 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, GAC UK, BAE Systems and now The Seafarers’ Charity.

To become a Charter organisation, businesses must share baseline data regarding the proportion of women in their workforce and across their middle and senior management and set target data for either five or ten years into the future. It also challenges the organisation to share where they are currently with their equality, diversity and inclusion journey and put targets in place for growth. 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 announcement follows the revision of The Seafarers’ Charity Equity, Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EEDI) action plan for 2020-25. The action plan reaffirms The Seafarers’ Charity’s commitment to increasing awareness of EEDI throughout the sector. Using their position in the maritime welfare sector to identify needs and opportunities to support all groups, including marginalised communities, to benefit from the diversity of the sector and also in looking at the diversity of governance for maritime welfare charities, diversity on Trustee boards is vital to move an organisation, including charitable organisations, forward. Since 2019, The Seafarers’ Charity have offered grants of £5,000 to support beneficiaries to fund external governance and diversity reviews.

Charter organisations 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, form part of the Diversity in Maritime programme. The networks bring together individuals from protected characteristics, and allies, from across the maritime sector in safe-space environments to share good practice and discuss barriers faced. The networks are supported by four working groups who create solutions to combat barriers.
  • Online toolkits: our continuously updated online Mental Health and Diversity in Maritime toolkits share 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 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.
  • Book Club: Ethnicity in Maritime Book Club involves a series of informal and intimate online/hybrid meet-ups that give its members an opportunity to read, listen and discuss books that broaden the knowledge and understanding of race and the impact of racism
  • Holistic Approach to Mental Health and Wellbeing: an initiative which will outline a holistic approach to enable the maritime sector to tackle the breadth of mental health and wellbeing.
  • LGBT+ Industry Roundtables: the roundtables commenced during Pride month to bring together network members along with senior executives from maritime businesses and organisations to share ideas on how to ensure maritime is welcoming for LGBT+ people.

The first step to becoming a Charter Company is to sign the Women in Maritime Gender Pledge and Mental Health Pledge. The Pledges demonstrate commitment from maritime executives to making progress on diversity and inclusion.

Chrissie Clarke, Head of People Programmes and Operations, Maritime UK said:

“Maritime UK is delighted to welcome The Seafarers Charity to the Diversity in Maritime Charter. The Charter is an important step on The Seafarers Charity’s journey to creating a more inclusive sector, whether at sea or on shore, and their progress will really help move the sector forward.”

Jo Doheny, Impact Executive and one of the founding members of the staff-led Diversity group at The Seafarers’ Charity said:

!We are so happy to have become a Diversity in Maritime Charter organisation and look forward to continuing our equity, equality, diversity and inclusion (EEDI) journey with Maritime UK and the other Charter organisations. Our staff-led Diversity working group was formed in 2020 in response to the death of George Floyd. The group aims to pool our ideas, lived experiences and thoughts to become more understanding and inclusive – working together to better embed EEDI into all aspects of our culture, policies and processes. We have really benefited from regular meetings and training around issues including Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, Mental Health Awareness and Unconscious Bias and look forward to continuing our EEDI journey.”

Team members are open about the difficult nature of some of the issues they talk about in the group.

Freddy Onono, Finance Analyst and also one of the original members of the Diversity group at The Seafarers’ Charity said:

“It’s been a journey and for everybody this is an ongoing learning process. Something I really understand a lot more about now is mental health. I’m from Kenya in Africa and anyone suffering with poor mental health is really side-lined and culturally a mental illness is linked to a lack of intelligence or just hidden away. I have shared my new perspective on recognising and listening to people suffering from mental health problems not just with colleagues at work but also with my Kenyan friends and family because it has changed my thinking.”

Diversity in Maritime is sponsored by Port of Aberdeen and Stena Line UK.

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