Empower women by maintaining an inclusive environment on your vessel.

Today, countries and organizations around the world celebrate World Maritime Day. Under the theme, “Empowering Women in the Maritime Community,” World Maritime Day is an opportunity to raise awareness of the importance of gender equality and highlight the contributions of women in the maritime sector. Recognition and support received today will empower many for long-term careers in the maritime industry.

Beyond today’s events, there is more that can be done to empower women in the work place, and we need women and men to pledge a concerted effort for an inclusive industry.

Below are 3 opportunities to create a culture on board your vessel that empowers women and your organization for success.

1. Cultivate a Speak-up Culture

A “speak-up” culture is where all voices are heard and everyone feels welcome to contribute. Cultivating such an environment is crucial to unlocking women’s insights. A study by the Center for Talent Innovation revealed that “leaders who make sure women get equal airtime are 89% more likely than non-inclusive leaders to unleash women’s innovative potential.” Leaders who are open to changing direction based on women’s input are more than twice as likely to tap into winning ideas. Furthermore, leaders who make sure each female member on the team receives both constructive and supportive feedback are 128% more likely to evoke breakthrough ideas.

2. Create Opportunities to Ask

Women often do not ask for what they want or need in the workplace. This is seen at any early age when girls are socialized not to promote their own interests and to focus instead on the needs of others. Messages from parents, teachers, other children, the media, and society are so powerful that it is common for girls to internalize this behavior. As girls grow up, this behavior of not asking continues and many women wait to be recognized and rewarded for working hard. Men, who are taught to ask for more, more ahead in the workplace, faster.  To make matters worse, many cultures penalize women when they ask. Women who pursue their own ambitions and promote their own interests are negatively labeled.

Manager can confront this problem and create opportunities for women to ask for what they want and need in the workplace. They can start by mentoring women they supervise to advise them on the benefits of asking for what they need to do their jobs effectively, in addition to why it is necessary to do so.

For more information about why women do not ask and what you can do about it, listen to the Women Offshore Podcast, Episode 7.  The founder of Women Offshore, Ally Cedeno, interviewed Sara Laschever, author of Women Don’t Ask, The High Cost of Avoiding Negotiation and Positive Strategies for Change. Through fascinating research with Dr Linda Babcock and revealing commentary from hundreds of women, learn why women don’t ask both at home and at work.

3. Recognize Myths that Affect Your Decisions

There are myths about women that are prevalent in society. These myths affect the ways women are treated, hired, promoted, and advanced in the workplace, often holding women back.

The list of myths is long: Women are more emotional than men. Women are not good at math. Women do not make good leaders, captains, or chiefs. Women have less confidence than men. Women will fight with the other women on board. Women are not as committed as men. Women do not want long-term careers at sea. Women with families cannot go to sea…

At Women Offshore, we dispel these myths every year at our annual conference, UNITE, where women from around the world share their sea stories and career achievements. This past year, we even had an unprecedented panel of women who are moms and work at sea.

Question what myths guide your judgement about women in the maritime industry, and look at the profiles on Women Offshore to find that women around the world have long-term careers on the water.

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How do you support an inclusive culture?

Are you someone who is a leader in the workplace for creating an inclusive environment? How do you create an inclusive culture? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Women Offshore
About The Author: Women Offshore

The Women Offshore Foundation is an online organization and resource center for a diverse workforce on the water. Its mission is to propel women into meaningful careers through access to a worldwide community and professional development resources, while raising awareness amongst industry leaders and decision makers about issues affecting women on the water. Contact Women Offshore today: hello@womenoffshore.org.

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