Unlocking opportunity

by | 16th May 2023 | The Naval Architect - News, Commercial Shipping

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Nor-Shipping places diversity front and centre

The shipping industry has often been accused of being old fashioned and inaccessible. This is something that naturally puts off younger generations from gaining the access that they might need to progress. Diversity is also a problem and in a predominantly male dominated industry it is important that spaces exist to promote a range of voices.

Step forward two organisations that are working hard to change that. Youngship, founded in Bergen in 2004, and the Women in International Shipping and Trading Association (WISTA), which celebrates its 35th anniversary this year. Both groups will be holding special events at Nor-Shipping in Oslo this June to provide an inclusive space for discussion about the future of shipping.

Youngship is a non-profit organisation run by, and for, its members, who work in their main jobs. The organisation has 700 members in Norway and 5,000 globally. Membership of the organisation comes from diverse background in the shipping industry. Out of the members in Norway approximately a quarter come from the naval architecture field.

The organisation has seen an increasing interest from all fields in becoming a members and sponsors. New members are usually recruited by older colleagues or are encouraged by other members of their team. Youngship has also begun to reach different companies in new fields of work, such as the consulting sector, which traditionally has not been too engaged.

“We do not have any political agenda, what we want is to be a front runner. We want to be a chosen platform for young professionals that are entering this amazing industry,” says Natalie Kim Le Nguyen, chair of Youngship. “So, our vision and mission are simply to facilitate networking and knowledge sharing opportunities and bridge the gap between the elder generation and the young generation. This is key in enhancing knowledge and it’s also a way to remove the barriers to move this industry forward.”

Following its founding in 2004 Youngship has expanded globally and now has branches in the Middle East, Americas and Asia. Major companies have also signed up as partners providing a diverse range of sponsorships, including Kongsberg, Yara and DNV, to name a few. At Nor-Shipping 2023 the group will be holding a range of events throughout the week focusing on different topics. Of note to many will be a seminar covering the impact of sanctions and the changing face of globalisation in the shipping world today, an event that will be sponsored by DNB.

Featuring alongside Youngship at this year’s event will also be WISTA, whose goal is to promote the role of women in the shipping industry. The organisation, which was founded in 1988, aims to be a major player in attracting more women to the maritime industry and to retain and elevate women in our industry. Operating on a voluntary basis in 56 different countries around the world with more than 3,500 members they are a membership organisation for thought leaders in the shipping industry.

Despite representing women in the shipping industry, the organisation is also open to men, and in Norway 10% of its members are male. WISTA has recently launched a campaign to increase the numbers of women in the shipping industry, where equality between the sexes has historically been low. In March 2022 it launched the ’40 by 30’ campaign aimed at increasing the percentage of women in the industry to 40% by 2030; the percentage of women in leading positions in the maritime industry in Norway is approximately only 15%.

The group held its first ‘40 by 30’ workshop in 2022 at the Norwegian Shipowners’ Association in which 17 companies participated. Further workshops will be held throughout Nor-Shipping featuring a range of different talks and seminars. WISTA will also be holding its 35th anniversary party on the 6 June to coincide with the event.

Both WISTA and Youngship are leading the way in encouraging new talent into the maritime industry and Nor-Shipping has shown that they have its full backing. Perhaps this will signal a change as more companies put diversity front and centre too as the industry moves fully into the 21st century. “If you don’t do anything to change your culture, or create the belonging, you don’t harvest the potential of recruiting those diverse persons. This doesn’t go only for women, it goes for all kinds of diverse talents,” says Stine Mundal, president WISTA Norway.

Nor-Shipping takes place in Oslo and Lillestrøm, Norway, on 6-9 June 2023.

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