According to the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), currently women represent only 2% of the world’s 1.2 million seafarers. What’s more, 94% of female seafarers work in the cruise industry. It is for this reason that the IMO is leading a number of campaigns to address the issue of gender inequality in the maritime industry and promoting careers at sea to women worldwide. At AET, promoting gender diversity has been on our agenda for many years, and although there is still a long way to go, we are seeing the benefits.
In a bid to tackle gender diversity head-on, in 2006, we took the decision to launch a fully-sponsored cadetship program to promote career opportunities at sea for women. 133 women have taken this program since, and today 112 women are pursuing their careers at sea with us forming 2.23% of our talent pool at sea. Given the success of this programme, and to share our experience, the IMO invited our marine services unit, Eaglestar, to speak at the IMO at their ‘Empowering Women at Sea’ conference on 24th June.
By focusing first on addressing the negative perception that seafaring is a career for men, we were able to promote the benefits of a career at sea to women. Developing a fully-sponsored cadetship program also meant that there were no financial barriers to entry into training, and therefore a much greater incentive for highly skilled, driven and capable people to train in a vocation that provides a steady career path.
Today, we are represented by 69 female officers in various ranks including at Chief Engineer level, 34 female trainees are in various stages of training and a further nine women are currently performing the non-technical role of Administrative Officers on board. In addition to the current Officers, by 2022 we expect at least four more women to take up leadership roles of Master and Chief Engineer in Eaglestar, too, which will be a significant achievement.
But this is not about balancing the numbers. Promoting diversity, for AET, is about creating a working environment in which equality of every measure is fostered across all our operations, and every individual is held to the same standards and expectations. This means making sure that every individual is made to feel welcome and equal to their peers; that everyone feels safe, can freely express views and their individual strengths harnessed for the benefit of the entire organisation.
This is why emphasis has been placed on creating job and training opportunities that are open to all, providing equal compensation and enshrining equality and diversity in our Code of Business Ethics. This has been key to our ability to attract both men and women to our workforce and retain talent.
To ensure that diversity is always championed, AET HR function works to ensure the continued improvement and ongoing training of all our people and every avenue explored to safeguard their wellbeing. Awareness and acceptance of our shared Values – including the principle of ‘Equality in Diversity’ – as well as our Cultural Beliefs are central to the work of HR and we are proud that, in our 25th year, we have achieved a common way of working within a truly global and committed team. It is thanks to this positive culture that we have a staff force, both at sea and onshore of more than 5,000 people from over 20 nationalities with a wide range of backgrounds.