The global maritime industry is traditionally male dominated (only 2% are women) – something that Fred. Olsen Windcarrier has been working hard to address. While we already have a more balanced distribution of men and women in our onshore organization, we are constantly striving to promote a higher presence of women at sea.
At Fred. Olsen Windcarrier, we have strict measures in place to ensure we promote equality and protect the rights of employees across the organization. We take great care to prevent discrimination of any kind, for example based on gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, or religious beliefs, and including other important factors such as whether someone is planning to start a family when they apply to join our ranks.
Traditional attitudes are changing
For our offices onshore, we have been successful in attracting both men and women with the right experience and qualifications for their roles. However, on our offshore vessels this is not such an easy task. As it stands, only 13% of our crews are comprised of women, primarily as stewardesses.
According to Second Officer Sarah Bloomer, “I would say that the view of women onboard Fred. Olsen Windcarrier vessels overall is very positive. For a long time, there have been women on our vessels, but in a more traditional role of stewardess. With the introduction of female officers, you could sense some apprehension, which is to be expected, but as soon as people saw we were more than capable of holding our own amongst our peers, this apprehension soon disappeared. I would say now it's almost normal for them.”
Fred. Olsen Windcarrier takes great care in the way it advertises career opportunities, making sure that we communicate the possibilities an offshore role can offer, and what tasks such a job will include. In addition, we will always present our recruitment efforts in a way that appeals to both men and women, and we include the sentence: ‘We value equity, diversity and inclusion in the workplace and take gender, age, and cultural background into account during recruitment.’
Building future leaders
Thanks to our efforts, in recent years recruiting results have shown a better balance between genders in both applying for and recruiting open positions. Fred. Olsen Windcarrier promotes equal opportunities within the company, and even finds new ways to encourage women to further their career with us.
One example of this is the opportunity given to participate in a Maritime Trainee program arranged by the Norwegian Shipowners Association. The program is one of the leading management trainee programs in Norway. It lasts for 18 months and combines working in a world-leading maritime company with an academic program containing five modules in Norway, Singapore, and London.
For our engineer, it is an invaluable opportunity to gain broader experience of the offshore industry, seafaring, and the different departments and vessels involved.
“One factor that effects women choosing this job and the retention rates of female officers is maternity benefits,” says Sarah Bloomer. “They need to at least match the standard of those that people in shoreside jobs get or companies need to be more open to have women job sharing so they can have a reduced rotation in order to be around for their kids.
“What I would say to aspiring female officers is there are times at sea that can be hard but there are also some pretty incredible times. I am just one of many women proving that females can be officers, and good ones at that. This is a fantastic career path with lots of opportunities to travel, to earn, and to grow as a person.”
A more balanced way ahead
While we are pleased with our progress in embracing equality, we can always do better. Policies have been established for HR to challenge the recruiting outcome if the percentage of a gender is lower in the candidate list compared with the application list.
We also conduct bi-yearly working environment surveys to ensure we maintain a culture of diversity and respect amongst our employees. We have promising responses from our survey conducted in 2022, but there are still improvements that can be made. We continue to work towards building a workplace environment where people feel comfortable to speak up when something is not ok.
Looking ahead, we have initiated a process for further looking into our responsibilities in line with the Norwegian Equality and Anti-Discrimination Act for our office employees, with plans to further develop within this area.