ICS sets targets to get more women working at sea

The International Chamber of Shipping has issued a 50-page report with some urgent recommendations for the industry to address its extraordinary diversity issues.

According to the International Transport Workers Federation’s recent collective bargaining agreements, the global supply of seafarers available for service on internationally trading ships is estimated at 1,647,500. Women seafarers comprised 1%. Once cruise shipping is included into this figure, the number of women working at sea stands at 7.5%.

Recommendations contained in the the ICS Diversity Tracker report include introducing flexible working patterns; ensuring suitable onboard accommodation for women seafarers; and publishing diversity and inclusion targets.

The ICS calls for a significant increase in the numbers of women onboard from 7.5% to 12% in the next three years and to 25% in 20 years.

Shipping’s lack of diversity is also very plain to see ashore, especially in senior management roles.

Heidi Heseltine, co-founder of the Diversity Study Group and regular Splash columnist, commented earlier this year: “There is a stark lack of diversity at shipping’s top table, when it comes to the profile of those in C-suite and senior management roles.”

Heseltine said the challenge for shipping is to ensure that there is no glass ceiling when it comes to reaching senior roles and that women are rewarded fairly for the jobs they are doing today.

A recent survey of Splash readers backed up the diversity concerns raised by the ICS and Heseltine. 81% of respondents to our latest MarPoll quarterly survey reckoned shipping is still not making a concerted effort to address its diversity issues.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.


  1. Sinister ICS-ITF tandem never miss an opportunity to obtain some political influence. Sailors (men and women) matter very little to them.

  2. Yes the most pressing issue facing shipping is that not enough seafarers have the right genitals. Exploitation of seafarers through low pay and long contracts etc. is not as important.

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