With its international spread, shipping can be described as already being diverse per se, according to Claudia Paschkewitz, managing director at Hanse Bereederung, the Hamburg-based shipbroker and commercial manager. But as the newly created CSM group director of diversity and inclusion, she does not believe this necessarily extends to issues like gender. She explains the thought process below.
Shipping must attract talented people if it is to grow and prosper, but to attract the right diverse workforce, it must be seen to be interesting. And to achieve this, shipping needs to understand what interests’ society, particularly when it comes to the younger generation. The maritime sector needs to sell itself better to gain market interest and new recruits. We need to move away from the staleness of the maritime sector with suit-wearing businessmen, to a more hybrid approach where the young have the work freedoms they desire.
The problem with diversity is that some organisations can overthink it by making it a tickbox operation as opposed to a natural operational mindset change. Also, we can’t change the existing structure immediately as this would disrupt business operations. Change takes time. To start change, businesses need to review their messaging from Senior Management down. I’m proud to work for Hanse Bereederung and to be the first ‘CSM Group Director of Diversity and Inclusion’. This tells our new recruits that our company seeks change and wants to lead from the front. It’s shining a light on the important issues to the next generation, and that is key to encouraging them to enter our sector.
The market needs to be more open-minded and generous in its outlook on what the next generation requires
The key issues interesting the next generation are the environment, sustainability and diversity. The maritime industry needs to deal with these topics and implement them successfully to recruit fresh blood. Young people use social media, and so the maritime sector needs to jump on the band wagon and use it to proactively raise shipping’s profile and make our sector attractive. No-one will want a career in a traditional business which lacks excitement, drive and interest.
Covid shone a light on the maritime sector which helped to raise its profile. Because we ordered our goods online and needed them quicky, the public quickly recognised shipping’s importance. Trade is pivotal but if the man in the street doesn’t acknowledge or value it, then we’re going to struggle to drive in fresh talent. The industry must be open to change. I’ve been in the sector for 30 years and have seen a lot of change, but as with everything there’s still room for improvement. It is a process that must come from within businesses; the leadership culture has to match the set targets otherwise progress will not be made. However, as we’ve seen with Covid, external circumstances often influence and accelerate this process.
When the younger generation become the decision-makers, the issue of diversity will strongly improve because there won’t be any divides. Industry will naturally evolve to become more diverse.
Research on Generation Z shows they seek meaningful work where they’re making a difference. They care about brands and what business they work for, so implementing strong core values in a business is vital. The younger generation is also looking for more hybrid work as digitalisation takes hold. The market needs to be more open to these new ways of working. Lockdowns pushed a fast-forward button on digitalisation which showed the many strengths of technology. There will be a natural movement back to the office, albeit with a certain degree of work flexibility but the market needs to be more open-minded and generous in its outlook on what the next generation requires and needs to enable change, growth and diversity.