Skip to content

The gender pay gap in the maritime industry

By the 4th April 2024, any UK organisation with 250 employees will need to report their gender pay gap.

As maritime HR experts, Spinnaker are secretariat to the Maritime HR Association, a members club made up of 105 shipowners, shipmanagers and oil majors. Members of the Association benefit from annual salary and bonus benchmarking reports for global shipping hubs.

The Association began collecting gender data as part of the annual salary survey process back in 2017, to gain an understanding of the gender pay gap within the UK maritime industry which would give the ability to not only compare this to the UK as a whole, but also monitor gender diversity within the sector generally.

Remember that gender pay differs from equal pay. Equal pay considers the pay difference between men and women who carry out the same or similar jobs or conduct work of equal value. It is unlawful in the UK to pay a man or a woman differently to do exactly the same job.

The gender pay gap or gender wage gap is the average difference between the remuneration for men and women who are working.

The 2023 pay information from the Spinnaker survey, reflects data for over 4,500 UK shore-based positions.

Spinnaker’s gender analysis is unique in being based on payroll data giving an accurate snapshot into the industry.

The 2023 report shows that 55% of UK staff in the survey at the junior/trainee level are female. This figure hasn’t changed since Spinnaker first started reporting the gender pay gap in 2017 and the percentage of women at the Executive Leadership team level has only increased by 5% since this date.

It’s therefore no surprise that in 2023 the mean gender pay gap in the UK reported by members of Spinnaker’s Maritime HR Association is 38.25% compared to a UK average of 13.2%.

The large gap in pay shows the maritime sector has a real problem with recruiting and retaining female talent.

We asked Lucy McQuillan, HRC Manager at Spinnaker why does she think that women are leaving the maritime industry?

She said, “We know there are various and complex reasons why women are not staying in the maritime industry, and enhanced maternity packages and flexible working policies are no longer going to cut it.” She went on to add “We have heard from members of our Maritime HR Association that they intend to tackle to problem head-on. Members have told us they are introducing several inclusive practices, including menopause policies, female mentor programmes, making period products available in the office and encouraging women to speak up in a safe environment.” She continued “‘Companies need to take action to create inclusive workplaces and ensure that diversity policies are embedded in their culture at all levels of the organisation. ”It’s well known that greater diversity within an organisation equals better financial results and there is no reason for more maritime companies not to be implementing similar practices.”

The Spinnaker data shows that the UK tends to employ an equal proportion of men and women. Although women in the maritime sector are most commonly found in Secretarial, HR, Marketing, Finance, Customer Service and Crewing positions. Whereas men are usually found in the Technical and Marine, Shipbroker, Chartering and Freight Trading positions. This picture translates to the Executive Leadership Team where only 13% of CEO’s reported in the survey globally are women and the majority of women in the Executive Leadership Team are found holding the Chief People Officer position.

Maybe maritime organisations in the UK could look to their Danish and Canadian counterparts for tips on how to improve gender equality. Denmark is ranked 2nd in the European Union for gender equality and in 2023 their pay gap was calculated at 27% matching what we also reported in Canada.

Mary McDermott, Head of HR for Navigator Gas and one of Spinnaker’s clients and members of the Maritime HR Association said that “The overarching goal for Navigator is 35% women in leadership by 2028, which we have committed to in a first of its kind loan facility agreement. In November 2022 we had 20% and today we have 27% – great progress but we must focus on retention. DE&I is a top People Strategy priority.” Navigator Holdings Ltd. Announces Innovative Gender Diversity Linked Loan Facility Agreement – Navigator Gas

Another of Spinnaker’s clients, Pacific Basin’s Head of HR Subi told us “Our fundamental objective is to promote a culture where our female colleagues never have to leave their jobs subsequent to childbirth because the transitional challenges are too much to cope with. We want to help ease their transition back into full-time work. To this end, we allow new mothers the option of working from home with full pay for 3 months after the completion of their statutory maternity leave so that their transition back into full-time work is made more manageable. We have gone from zero to >65 female seafarers on our ships in the last four years and we conduct outreach programs for secondary school girl students in collaboration with WISTA.”

Spinnaker’s Maritime HR Association is currently collecting data for the 2024 salary survey. For more information on how to take part please contact a member of the team.

Thank you! Your subscription has been confirmed. You'll hear from us soon.