Mersey Maritime takes the lead in national Women in Maritime campaign

Joe Anderson

Industry group Mersey Maritime is spearheading a national campaign to increase the number of women in the industry.

The Women in Maritime initiative was set up by Maritime UK, and Mersey Maritime is part of the Taskforce that is addressing the lack of gender diversity in the UK maritime sector.

This week saw the launch of a Charter which creates a framework to challenge companies to make progress on diversity and will be supported by a suite of ‘toolkits’ or resources to help companies realise those targets.

Companies joining the Women in Maritime Charter will be required to agree an action plan, setting out individual targets for each participating company.

Since Maritime UK’s Women in Maritime Taskforce called for companies to engage in its work, more than 60 companies have signed a pledge designed to signal intent on gender diversity, including local businesses Peel Ports Group, CMA CGM and Complete Training Solutions.

Having consulted those companies on the design of the Charter, the Taskforce is now calling for Charter ‘pilots’ to come forward and agree their action plans.

Yesterday Mersey Maritime hosted the Northern launch of the Charter at Liverpool Town Hall for 80 delegates.

The event was opened by Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson, a former seafarer, who signed the pledge and spoke about the importance of maritime and the River Mersey to the region: “This magnificent river runs through our city region and it runs through our veins . . . we have to demand more equality in the sector and encourage women to be part of the maritime community,” he said.

The launch celebrated the thriving maritime industry within Liverpool City Region which contributes more than £3.5bn to the region’s economy and employs in excess of 28,000 people.

Those present heard the career journeys of three women within the industry – Angie Redhead, head of city assets at Liverpool City Council; Ruth Wood, commercial manager at Mersey Maritime; and Kirsten Blood, quality assurance inspector at Cammell Laird.

The purpose of their talks was to challenge some of the misconceptions about the industry.

There was also a panel discussion about the charter, represented by Julia Bradley, sales and marketing director at Peel Ports Group, Kathryn Nielson, director at the Merchant Navy Training Board, Helen Kelly, European editor in chief at Lloyds List, and Tom Powell, managing director at Complete Training Solutions.

Julia Bradley said: “There is a fallacy that maritime is dark and archaic, but we want to highlight that it is actually very technology led.”

Some of the speakers

A key focus of the discussion was the importance of education and demystifying the maritime industry from a young age.

Kathryn Nielson said: “If this campaign is to succeed then it requires a huge cultural change – we need to start with the younger generation and capture the hearts and minds of 8-10-year olds, before they develop any pre-conceived ideas about male and female work roles.”

The event was closed by Sue Terpilowski, chair of the Women in Maritime Taskforce, who told the attendees: “The world is changing and this campaign represents a golden opportunity for the maritime sector. Please get involved, because if we are united, we can get this done.”

The Women in Maritime Taskforce has the support of the Department for Transport and Maritime Minister, Nusrat Ghani, who said: “Our maritime sector keeps Britain thriving, but it’s missing out on a wealth of talent.

“No industry is a closed shop and there are simply too few women working in rewarding maritime careers, both at sea and on shore.

“It’s great to now see a real drive from companies wanting to attract women into roles, from captains and chief engineers at sea, to senior executives on shore, which will, in turn, help unlock the potential of their businesses.”