10 billion tonnes of cargo were shipped on the world’s oceans in 2020. Two thirds dry cargo and one third wet. In total, this corresponds to around 80% of all goods transported on a global basis.
Nevertheless, the entire shipping industry is noticeably mysterious to many, and often arouses public interest only in events of breakdowns causing corner for oil spills or delivery disruptions such as when Ever Given suddenly got stuck in the Suez Canal. These are certainly concerns that the industry shares, but shipping is about so much more. Ten billion tonnes of wheat, sugar, iron ore, chemicals, oils, iPhones, bicycles and tractors were transported by sea the year before last – worth 15 trillion US dollars. It is a gigantic transport market in which Norway is a leading world player, but which attracts little coverage in the Norwegian newspapers.
Shipping is broader than you think
Shipping is without a doubt one of the most engaging, dynamic and international industries in the world, but as mentioned, is merely peripheral in existence for most people. Norway is a world-leading maritime nation, with one of the world’s largest merchant fleets alongside China, Japan, Greece and the USA. Global negotiations are constantly ongoing across time zones, for the shipment of good, for the purchase and sale of ships, and via financial derivatives as tools to minimise freight rate risks. The international logistics that enables the shipment of cargo from one side of the world to the other includes regulatory authorities, shipowners, operators, ship brokers, seafarers, insurers, class companies, lawyers, customs officers, agents, surveyors, superintendents, ship designers, equipment suppliers, IT, human resources departments, financial managers, investors, banks and customers… and more.
Shipping has always been a vital artery in the maritime nation of Norway; we are one of the very few in the world that can boast a complete maritime cluster, and as a result we have an enormous need for the right competence and manpower to maintain that position.
Major sustainability requirements for the maritime sector
Now more than ever before, the shipping industry faces monumental challenges to the demands for digitalisation and decarbonisation. By 2030, shipping will halve emissions from 2008 levels, and by 2050, emissions will be eliminated (net zero). To achieve these sustainability goals, we need the young people with digital fingerspitzgefühl on land and at sea.
We need those with seafaring experience and those with expertise from other industries to challenge the norm, streamline existing processes, and encourage innovation. We must make a seafaring career attractive, and we must make shipping attractive to the land-based who study at our colleges and universities. Let them know that there is an explicit need for engineers, chemists, technologists, economists, designers, employees with responsibility for personnel, crewing and finance. We need to expose schoolchildren and students to the phenomenal breadth of disciplines that are needed in shipping. We must get talent from the entire population of Norway – representatives with different genders, different cultural backgrounds and nationalities.
Diversity through “40 by 30”
Norway is one of the world’s most equal countries, but according to the Norwegian Shipowners’ Association’s business survey from 2020, the proportion of female managers in shipping is a mere 15%. Although it may be natural to expect a 50/50 distribution, we are aiming for what we believe is achievable – which is 40% women in management positions by 2030 – hence the “40 by 30” campaign for WISTA (Women’s International Shipping & Trading Association) Norway.
It seems strange not to have women represented in the management and boardrooms in Norway in 2022. Nevertheless, shipping companies only have half as many female managers compared to what even the financial industry can boast of. In 2022, we must draw on the entire population and ensure that the maritime industry is mirroring society – quite simply because it makes sense. The degree of innovation, well-being and development – in many cases also earnings – is higher where diversity is well established in management and in the organisation as a whole.
That said, diversity and inclusion go hand in hand, and for increased diversity to have a long-term positive effect, we must work purposefully with inclusion. For the shipping industry to shine as one of the most exciting and international industries we have in Norway, we must make active choices for more diversity and keep the gender balance in mind when new employees, middle managers, top managers and boards are elected. The industry desperately needs more female role models.
Shipping into the future
So, on behalf of the member organisation WISTA Norway, when we celebrate Women’s Day, we celebrate our male and female members, our colleagues and friends. Together we will make shipping even more attractive to bring in top talent. Not by enticing with the status and antics of the past, but by appearing as the most forward-looking industry with the most interesting and demanding conundrums to solve. We are not able to carry out the complex green shift we are facing without having the wisest minds with us to find the best solutions for digitalisation and decarbonisation of shipping.
Therefore, we encourage the entire maritime cluster to support WISTA Norway’s “40 by 30” campaign, and we challenge maritime leaders in Norway to sign WISTA Norway’s 40 by 30 Pledge. Together, we can and will achieve the UN’s sustainability and diversity goals in 2030 and 2050.
Ten billion tonnes of cargo – ten billion good reasons for increased diversity in shipping!