Columbia Group launches Female Cadet Mentoring Programme to help recruit and retain more women in maritime


As part of its bid to attract more women into the maritime sector, Columbia Group has launched a mentoring programme aimed at female cadets.

Recognising that the industry is missing out on a great deal of female talent who could bring different perspectives and more ideas and innovation, the Group is underscoring its commitment to creating a more diverse workforce with the 12-month Female Cadet Mentoring Programme.

It hopes that the mentoring programme will not only attract more females onboard vessels, but help to retain them in the industry past cadetship, especially when faced with a number of career challenges such as the flexibility needed for juggling work and home life.

“We need to change the culture in the industry surrounding women and make it more viable for them to have a career in maritime, so that we can attract and widen the pool of talent that we draw from,” said programme leader Claudia Paschkewitz (pictured, left) Columbia Group’s Managing Director of Sustainability, Diversity & Inclusion.

“We hope that our new mentoring programme will provide the emotional support and encouragement that female cadets may need to make them feel comfortable and confident in their roles.”

The programme acknowledges evidence from a 2019 Solent University Report which highlights that mentoring schemes are also able to reduce costs related to health and safety, as well as decreasing staff turnover.

Columbia is drawing on the services of leading corporate wellbeing provider OneCare Solutions (OCS) for training of the programme’s mentors, who will be senior female colleagues based in different departments onshore. Each will be trained to deal with situations such as sexual harassment and bullying, and assigned to one female cadet in the fleet for their whole 12 months of sea service.

To ensure the success of its Cadetship Programme, Columbia Group is appealing for the support of mentors and captains alike and all captains of vessels in the fleet which have female cadets assigned to them will receive contact details for the cadets’ mentors prior to embarkation, thus encouraging communication between mentors and their mentees.

“Our mentors will provide a safe and supportive environment so cadets can seek advice or voice any concerns they may have,” explained Ms Paschkewitz.

“Through the Female Cadet Mentoring Programme, the cadets can develop the skills and knowledge to succeed in their careers and, one day, become leaders in the maritime industry themselves.”