Shipping singled out again for its lack of diversity in leadership positions

Barely one in four c-suite positions in shipping are held by women, a major new study reveals this week.

The Diversity Study Group’s latest shipping survey polled more than 3,000 people across the world covering many strands of the business including owners, operators, managers and charterers.

The survey confirms a significant lack of ethnic and female representation at senior levels of the sector. The data showed 27% of C-suite positions are currently held by women, dropping to 14% for the heads of department level.

However, this gender imbalance is not reflected at junior and trainee level, where the split is 63% female and 35% male.

The survey also explored the gender divide between departments. IT remains the most male-dominated department with 82% of its workforce identifying as male. This is closely followed by technical and fleet operations, with only 19% of roles being filled by women. In comparison, there is a higher representation of women in finance, human resources, administrative and support roles, as well as legal, insurance, and middle-office areas.

As well as gender, the annual review explored age and ethnicity in the shoreside shipping workforce.

Heidi Heseltine, co-founder of the Diversity Study Group, commented: “Other sectors are making considerable investments in time and resource as they adapt their business strategies to foster a more inclusive workplace culture. If shipping fails to do so, it risks falling behind at a time when DEI (diversity, equality, inclusivity) has become essential to building a resilient and relevant sector, one that can thrive and progress. It is clear that shipping’s next generation cares about DEI issues. Shipping is also competing with other sectors for the same people, so it is essential that we can offer meaningful, inclusive, and fulfilling career destinations.”

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. Ridiculous—–what, too many Greeks and Norwegians and not enough Chadians, Bolivians ,Nepalese and Austrians?

  2. Great article. Diversity should be further encouraged. Would like to see more articles on diversity in your news.

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