Columbia Group champions shipboard diversity

Philippine Tribune
Philippine Tribune

THE lack of diversity among shipboard seafarers has been a persistent challenge for the global maritime industry. Women seafarers comprise a meager 2 percent of the entire global seafaring sector, based on a study by the International Maritime Organization.

This shortage of women seafarers onboard ships is what Columbia Group, Cyprus-based ship management, aims to resolve with its recently launched mentoring initiatives.

The Columbia Group stresses its commitment to creating a more diverse workforce with the Female Cadet Mentoring Program. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

The Columbia Group stresses its commitment to creating a more diverse workforce with the Female Cadet Mentoring Program. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

The Columbia Group stresses its commitment to creating a more diverse workforce with the Female Cadet Mentoring Program. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

The 12-month mentoring program targets female cadets. It aims to attract more female seafarers onboard vessels and help them be retained in the industry past cadetship, especially when faced with several career challenges, such as the flexibility needed for juggling work and home life.

“We need to change the culture in the industry surrounding women and make it more viable for them to have a career in maritime so that we can attract and widen the pool of talent that we draw from,” said program leader Claudia Paschkewitz, Columbia Group’s managing director of sustainability, diversity and inclusion.

“We hope that our new mentoring program will provide the emotional support and encouragement that female cadets may need to make them feel comfortable and confident in their roles,” she said.

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The program acknowledges evidence from a 2019 Solent University Report, which highlights that mentoring schemes are also able to reduce costs related to health and safety, as well as decrease staff turnover.

Columbia is drawing on the services of leading corporate wellbeing provider OneCare Solutions to train the program’s mentors, who will be senior female colleagues based in different departments onshore.

Each will be trained to deal with situations such as sexual harassment and bullying and assigned to one female cadet in the fleet for their whole 12 months of sea service.

To ensure the success of its Cadetship Program, Columbia Group is appealing for the support of mentors and captains alike, and all captains of vessels in the fleet that have female cadets assigned to them will receive contact details for the cadets’ mentors before embarkation, thus encouraging communication between mentors and their mentees.

“Our mentors will provide a safe and supportive environment so cadets can seek advice or voice any concerns they may have,” Paschkewitz explained.

“Through the Female Cadet Mentoring Program, the cadets can develop the skills and knowledge to succeed in their careers and, one day, become leaders in the maritime industry themselves.”

Recognizing that the industry is missing out on a great deal of female talent who could bring different perspectives and more ideas and innovation, the group underscores its commitment to creating a more diverse workforce with the 12-month Female Cadet Mentoring Program.

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