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Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the maritime industry – Njsane Courtney, ABS

As we get ready for the Spinnaker Maritime People & Culture Conference next month, we ask Njsane Courtney the Vice President of Human Resources and Global DE&I Officer for ABS for his thoughts on the importance of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

Consumer attitudes and demands are significant drivers in the global economy. If consumers want more of a particular product, businesses throughout the supply chain will coordinate to meet demand. Likewise, if consumers expect their products and services to reflect environmentally or socially responsible features, companies should work to meet those demands.

Operating a sustainable and inclusive business is the right thing to do for the planet and your people. Still, there is a clear business case for aligning with consumer expectations. According to 5W Public Relations, 71% of consumers prefer buying products from organizations that share their values.

End-consumer interaction with the maritime industry is indirect at most, but considering that around 80% of all goods are transported by sea, consumer sentiment can have a domino effect throughout the supply chain. It is essential that maritime industry leaders be proactive about reinforcing people-centered values, not only for the business case but also to create fair and equal opportunities for all employees. Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I) initiatives offer an avenue for organizations to both take a leadership stance on biases as well as meet consumer and partner expectations.

At American Bureau of Shipping (ABS), we understand the importance of providing leadership in an era of change. For example, while we support the global maritime fleet on the journey to net-zero emissions, we are also working to reduce our environmental impact and improve sustainability in our global offices.

While sustainability initiatives are partly driven by the need for the industry to be a good steward of our planet, DE&I initiatives can be described as businesses being good stewards of our people.

Organizations that embrace DE&I-centric processes have access to a larger talent pool, helping make their businesses a place people with diverse experiences and backgrounds will want to work. A more diverse workforce further helps show your partners that your organization can align with the consumer-centric values they seek, improving business relationships in the process.

Of course, it’s not enough to establish a DE&I program —to check the diversity box and move on. Starting a DE&I initiative means actively implementing a strategy and fostering an inclusive workplace culture for all our people, regardless of traits or differences.

As a global organization of 53 nationalities and 31 ethnicities, ABS recognizes that the more diversity we have on our team, the better we perform and serve our clients. People are at the core of everything we do, and we are committed to maintaining a workforce representing different cultures and backgrounds, creating an inclusive and equitable environment for all.

We’ve achieved several notable milestones since launching our DE&I initiative:

  • In 2022, nearly 30 percent of all senior-level promotions or new hires were women.
  • In 2022, nearly 20 percent of all promotions were minorities.
  • Achieved 42 percent of incoming university hires that are female and/or minority.
  • Established new scholarship funds for two historically Black colleges and universities in the United States.

We’ve also established three employee resources groups in the last year, with more on the way. One group is focused on empowering women in the maritime industry, a second on creating connections and a community for our military veterans, and the third is dedicated to the growth and development of black employees.

Finally, it’s important to always strive to do better. One of the ways ABS does this is through continuous learning. This year, ABS plans to roll out additional training for employees and managers. We are also planning an in-person, external subject matter expert-led workshop for senior executives regarding unconscious bias and how to foster a more inclusive environment.

Embracing DE&I initiatives and committing to making the maritime industry — ABS and beyond — a more inclusive and equitable workplace will help align our values with consumer expectations, strengthen relationships with our supply chain partners, and enable our people to thrive and succeed.

You can follow Njsane on LinkedIn

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