The Maritime DEI (Diversity, Equity & Inclusion) Lab is an open innovation competition with the objective to find an idea which could have an impact on DEI in the maritime industry.
After product pitches to senior leaders from the six partners – Hafnia, Thome Group, Rio Tinto, RightShip, Anglo American and Wilhelmsen – two winning concepts were selected for development last October.
The first was SeaBuddy, a joint entry from RightShip and Seapeak, which envisages a platform to allow individual seafarers to connect with one another – this can be for comfort, it can be for mentoring, it can even be to show students, at first hand, what a career in maritime might look like. The platform idea extended to Colibri Maritime X; this concept, created by a team from Wilhelmsen and Thome Group looks at exchanging talent to promote learning and enrichment for individual employees.
The number one objective of the program is to create impact and, utilising the industry reach of the partners, the first task following the competition has been to validate each idea’s core hypothesis.
For SeaBuddy, a survey of more than 250 seafarers revealed that 80% of them felt a need for a platform to facilitate connections to help career and personal development with knowledge sharing, advice, guidance, and support all being key needs. An additional insight was that such a platform would be especially valuable for cadets and new starters as well as for individuals in a stage of transition, for example from sea to shore or into a new role. Furthermore, detailed interviews have allowed us to identify what an ideal platform should look like with simplicity, flexibility and ease of access cited as important.
The team looking at Colibri Maritime X has been researching organisation barriers to talent exchange. Legal and contractual issues have been raised as has a pervasive fear of talent “poaching”. However, what has been a surprise has been how well received the concept has been with Gen Z employees; these employees represent the future of the industry, and many have a very different expectation of the workplace and ways of working from the status quo. It is even possible that concepts such as Colibri need to become the norm if the sector aims to be attractive to the talent of the future.
Leads of the Maritime DEI Lab Shanker Pillai (Head of Innovation at Hafnia) and Richard Holdsworth (Founder of vBox) comment “At the end of the program the challenge to develop the concepts seemed daunting. However, having the support of the partners and the enthusiasm of the winning teams gave us confidence. In addition, the feedback so far has been universally positive demonstrating a great deal of support for what we’re trying to achieve. It’s early days but we are both feeling quietly confident that we’re on the right track to make a difference.”
For both concepts the next few months will focus on creating minimum viable products (MVP) which will be used to run pilots within the partners as well as other selected organisations. These pilots will focus on the useability and desirability of each concept and begin to answer the key question “will the product make a tangible difference to DEI in the maritime industry?”.
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