In their latest survey, Diversity Study Group (DSG) explored interesting indicators regarding diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), and found strong links between diversity and good leadership in shipping.
he DSG 2023 Annual Review findings are based on a survey of respondents from across the maritime sector and conducted in association with 15 shipping organisations, spanning ship owners and managers, classification, technology, ports and marine services. According to DSG, with over 2,500 responses, spanning 99 nationalities and six continents, this is a global snapshot of the people that work in the shore-based shipping industry.
Key findings and statistics
- The overall gender split was 52.2% male and 45% female, more diverse compared to 2022’s 56.8% male and 41.8% female
- Female representation in the lowest four of six levels of seniority has now passed the important 30% mark, and this year’s results show an improved gender balance in six of seven categories of job function.
- Female representation remains poor at the leadership level and the proportion of women in technical roles has actually declined
- The proportion of leadership roles held by people who are White is falling, from 69.5% to 61%, alongside an increase in people identifying as Asian in C-suite or head of department roles from 25% to 31.7%.
- The results also show an increase in Middle Eastern, Hispanic and other ethnicities in top roles, albeit in small numbers.
- In mid-level roles, ethnicities other than White or Asian climbed from 7.7% to 13.2%.
- However, the figures are not compelling, and anecdotal evidence suggests it remains harder to be an ethnic minority (however that is defined in different location), especially in senior decision-making roles.
DEI in practice
- The overall proportion of people ‘with a supportive peer group’ remained roughly the same as last year, but with much less variation between people of different identities.
- This year, more than 80% of every group analysed by the review said they had such a support group around them.
- The survey results also show correlation between good DEI practices and people feeling secure and valued at work. This includes having robust practices and inclusive policies to avoid discrimination, and building network groups so people don’t feel ‘different’ or unusual.
- A 54% responded that their employer could do more to achieve a diverse and inclusive workplace. When given the opportunity to comment on what further action they wanted to see, there was also a marked shift towards calls for action, rather than planning, thinking or talking about it.
The critical role of leadership to DEI
The evidence continues to grow in two areas showing the importance of effective leadership on DEI. First, there is growing feedback that an organisation’s inclusivity is most visible in the diversity of its leadership. Second, a leadership team’s commitment to action must be visible. Employees have heard leaders talk about DEI and most buy into it. Now they are keener than ever to see it in action.
According to the survey, the findings show a connection between sound DEI policies and good management. If managers can make employees feel more confident, more authentic and more included, they get better results from them. Interestingly, there is also good evidence in the survey that the reverse is also true; that being a good manager also means being an inclusive manager.
Heidi Heseltine, Founder of the Diversity Study Group, pointed out that the results seem to show growing impatience for meaningful action from employees, who want to see DEI policies and programmes properly resourced and enforced. This is where leaders need to strike the right balance between listening to people, thinking about what works for their organisation, she noted.
It is crucial to listen to people at every level and of every type to show where problems might prevent people delivering their best. Top-level DEI priorities are still critical, but any actions must be nuanced.
… said Heidi Heseltine, while also highlighting that at a time when it is more important than ever to set out a clear vision for diversity and inclusion in an organisation, to deliver on a DEI strategy, to engage employees, and to attract and retain talent, the data provided by their annual survey is essential business intelligence for today’s shipping leaders. To remind, in an exclusive interview with SAFETY4SEA, Heidi Heseltine had identified retaining and attracting talent the biggest challenge for the industry in 2022.