Diversity Study Group launches seafarer workplace data-gathering and benchmarking initiative

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Captured on 18-07-2023 by Mike Bell Photography.

Leading ship operators Anglo-Eastern Ship Management, Ardmore Shipping and Dorian LPG have signed on as founding members of Diversity Study Group’s (DSG) newly launched Seafarer Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging (DEIB) Data-gathering and Benchmarking initiative.

The initiative tracks crew member demographics as well as data relating to psychological and physical safety and wellbeing, enabling members to take a granular look at the successes and challenges of onboard DEIB programmes while accounting for the unique constraints of a diverse global workforce at sea. Year-on-year tracking will identify emerging trends, successful outcomes and ongoing challenges, showcase best practice, and allow DSG to employ their expertise to strengthen supportive working cultures.

DSG Founder Heidi Heseltine (pictured) said: “It is important to understand that inclusion is about recognising and understanding everyone’s experiences and perspectives, which includes those from both dominant and under-represented groups onboard. It’s heartening to see numerous responsible ship operators institute DEIB programmes across their vessels to improve the safety and wellbeing of their personnel. But limited data on current levels of diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging onboard ships makes it difficult to track successes and assess real outcomes or value to businesses.”

Addressing this gap in information will allow ship operators to implement strategic DEIB initiatives with greater potential for success, and maximise value for all stakeholders involved, inclusive of crew members. Improved onboard communication, increased trust in leadership, and with other crew members, and improved morale have significant benefits for the safety and efficiency of operations. This helps retain experienced and talented employees, while also attracting new candidates to the workforce.

Michael Sandaluk, Chief Human Resources Officer at Anglo-Eastern, said: “Our industry is driven forward by the strength and talent of our people, and it is of vital importance that we nurture their potential and leverage their full abilities in a positive environment. DSG’s new benchmarking system will bring fresh insight to Anglo-Eastern’s efforts on this front, and we look forward to working together to embed positive change for our crews.”

Acting as an independent third party, DSG has designed an anonymised online survey to gather data on seafarer demographics. This information will be analysed and relevant insights shared with members of the initiative through a secure online business intelligence dashboard. Each organisation will gain access to anonymised data specific to their onboard personnel, while also being able to measure it against the aggregated industry responses available.

Aideen O’Driscoll, Senior Vice President of Corporate Services at Ardmore, said: “Trust is a crucial component to working at sea — crew members need to be able to trust each other in order to operate safely and efficiently, and they need to be able to trust the company they work for to keep them safe and progress their careers effectively. Commitment and appropriate action are vital in this process, and we look forward to engaging with the results of DSG’s seafarer DEIB initiative to ensure our diverse workforce has what they need to thrive at sea.”

Anglo-Eastern Ship Management, Ardmore Shipping and Dorian LPG are also members of DSG’s parallel DEIB benchmarking initiative for shore-based personnel. The initiative, which has been running for over five years, reports an employee engagement rate of up to 80% with its surveys. Participating organisations have utilised these results to inform business strategies, Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for stakeholders, and Environment, Social, and Governance (ESG) reporting.

Alex Hadjipateras, Senior Executive Vice President of Dorian LPG (USA) LLC and Managing Director of Dorian LPG Management (Athens), said: “As an integrated shipping company, we seek to connect with our teams at sea at multiple touchpoints and build a strong bond that transcends just the basics of salary. We firmly believe that when you invest in young people and provide equal opportunities, they feel supported to grow together with the company and this leads to higher retention. For us, a strategy of jointly led organic growth is far superior to consistently having to go to market to hire new crew members.”

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