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Diversity in the workplace

7 tips for diversity & inclusion in your business

Diversity & inclusion remains a hot topic in the HR world, but how are we doing in maritime?

A group of maritime professionals discussed the topic at our recent Maritime HR conference, supported by Adam Hyland and Emma Turner from Diversity & Ability. The energetic and honest conversation identified 7 key ways we can improve D&I in our businesses:

  1. Visibility

Disability and difference needs to be visible, celebrated and welcomed at all levels and in all internal and external modes and channels of communication.

  1. Staff need to feel safe

….in order for disclosure of disability, or a support need, to take place. Safety requires a culture where staff feel able to share needs without any recrimination or negative response, that they will be well and appropriately supported and that managers will have empathy and willingness to learn. There also needs to be a balance found with a self-identification approach to disclosure, so that organisations don’t have a culture of managerial entitlement to know all the details.

  1. Disclosure should be a choice

And a supported one. There are positive implications to organisations if people choose not to disclose. Managers should also be equipped to recognise symptoms and ways to approach conversations, without them having the pressure to diagnose.

  1. Mental health matters

Unsupported hidden difference and disabilities can lead to poor mental health. The industry needs to reframe the mindset to mainstream discussions around mental health generally.

  1. Think about hidden disabilities

These are more challenging to respond to e.g. neurodiversity (autism/dyslexia/ADHD), cancer, depression, mental ill health, and require stronger awareness and understanding among leadership, managers and the wider staff.

  1. Identify opportunities to remove bias

Conscious bias, unconscious bias and ignorance need to be addressed in a cross organisational way. Awareness and knowledge needs to be embedded across the whole organisation; from leadership right across the workforce. A lack of knowledge and/or bias around hidden disability and a lack of support structure is very problematic, where it will be impossible to effectively address need. If these differences remain invisible then nothing changes.

  1. Review your recruitment and job design

Approach recruitment in a new way – an asset-based approach where an individual will not face barriers applying for roles and will have the opportunity to show that their difference can be the very thing that makes them great for the job. At the same time taking into account risks as well as strengths.

With recruitment in mind, we approached Jon Chaplin, Director of Executive Search at Spinnaker, for his views on how much value the industry is currently placing on diversity: “It has become commonplace for clients of Executive Search to require a diverse shortlist and we now just assume that will be the case when taking a brief. As a result, we are now far more ‘inclusive’ when headhunting for particular roles, which is good for us and our clients.” He also added that “right now there is certainly more demand than supply for female former engineers, deck officers or class surveyors who are moving up to senior technical and commercial management jobs.” 

If you would like to discuss overcoming diversity challenges in your maritime business, feel free to get in touch with the HR Consulting team via [email protected] or +44 (0)1702 781660.

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