Diversity is Strength

Last night I was taking my nightly walk and catching up on my endless list of downloaded and unlistened-to podcasts.  One of these is “A bit of Optimism with Simon Sinek.”  If you aren’t familiar with Simon, he bills himself as an optimist and is the author of bestselling books such as “Start with Why,” “Leaders Eat Last,” and “The Infinite Game.”  These books could be considered as “leadership” books, but I prefer to think of them as guides to being human.

This week’s “A bit of Optimism” podcast (linked below) was with Shamma Al Mazrui, Minister of State for Youth Affairs for the United Arab Emirates. Shamma Al Mazrui is revolutionizing the dynamic between youth and government. At the age of 22, she became the youngest government minister in the world.  During the podcast, she and Simon discussed diversity – a snippet of the conversation is below.  It really struck me as an ideal description of diversity and why it is so important for organizations.

Simon Sinek on diversity….from a bit of Optimism podcast Hope with Shamma Al Mazrui….

And then this morning, I woke up to find an article from the December issue of the Nautical Institute Seaways in a post (linked below) on LinkedIn.  In that article and issue were perspectives on diversity in general and SASH (sexual assault/sexual harassment) in particular from NI President, Jillian Carson-Jackson and Gordon Foot, FNI.  

SASH, to be blunt, is never acceptable, is a crime and should be investigated and punished as one.  The only question is, “How do we prevent it?”  There are many tactics ranging from training – training in groups, computer based training and sign-on orientations – to reporting systems to Gordon Foot’s statement, “Posters and zero tolerance statements are ineffective if we do not act.”  By acting, it doesn’t mean in a reactive sense after SASH has already occurred, but by being proactive and picking up on the weak signals that indicate your culture may be turning toxic.  Tolerance for behavior normalizes it, so if “off-color” jokes are tolerated, it is normalized.  If sexualized banter is tolerated, it is normalized.  Don’t normalize what is degrading and unwelcome, as it can lead into far worse behavior.

It is now a few months past the Simon Sinek podcast and the Nautical Institute Seaways issue and it is IMO’s International Day of Women in Maritime.  Looking on social media, I see posts from women in maritime that state they simple wish to be seen as seafarers – not women seafarers.  And, I believe this is rightfully so, as they are doing the same jobs with the same abilities and, quite possibly, better than their counterparts.  I will, however, continue to argue that diversity in crew’s backgrounds, genders, religions and routes into the maritime industry (and any other of a vast quantity of society’s subsets) provides a pool of knowledge that we might not otherwise have.

And, in the end, that diversity makes us more efficient, better equipped to handle unique situations and safer.  So, let’s celebrate the International Day for Women in Shipping, as it will help that diversity grow!

Additional Reading and Links

NI Seaways – Diversity is Strength (2021)

Women Offshore – Sexual Assault & Violence Eradication Program, Episode 96

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: