International Women’s Day 2023: Shining a Light on UKSA

Published 08/03/2023

International Women’s Day – a day for women who are amazing not just today, but the whole year round!

Today though, I want to shine a light on UKSA as I’m proud to work for such a gender diverse organisation.

Unlike most other organisations in the marine sector, we’ve got a pretty even split, with 46% female staff and eight women in senior leadership roles. Those leadership roles cover a wide range, from sales and marketing right through to me in fundraising, providing inspiration and aspiration to not only the staff at UKSA, but those we welcome through our doors every day.

We’re fortunate to have role models like Dee Caffari, our Youth and Mental Health Ambassador, regularly visit UKSA and share stories to inspire our beneficiaries. Dee bravely left a stable career in teaching to go and learn to become a watersports instructor and then a skipper at UKSA. But to go on to do the races and challenges she’s done around the world, while pioneering quality in sailing, it’s phenomenal.

It’s hugely important to empower women into key positions in our sector, bringing with them a wealth of knowledge and experience. It gives young people role models to aspire to. Diversity is vital to increase productivity, bring new and innovative perspectives and make better decisions. You’re simply not going to get creative thinking, or the ability to approach issues, challenges and strategies well without having a diverse group of people around the table. This is not just about the balance of men and women, but having those with different backgrounds, originate from different areas, with different cultures, experiences and thoughts.

When I look at the work UKSA does and the work it aspires to do more of in the future, such as bringing more diverse and disadvantaged young people onto our development programmes, professional training courses and into employment, I am struck by the journey that the industry still needs to go on to recognise and support diverse young people into employment and give them an opportunity. The whole industry needs to champion this way of thinking, those young people are our future.

We’ve got fantastic support from businesses like Edmiston, who are funding some of this work. We’re also working closely with the Workboat Association and with more companies on our maritime apprenticeships such as the Marine Society Sea Cadets. There’s also fantastic work being done by the likes of She of the Sea, working to build a diverse and inclusive yachting industry, becoming a signatory of its pledge further supports our drive towards meaningful change in the maritime sector. I attended Maritime UK’s women in maritime network meeting last week, a brilliant group empowering women in the industry, and building awareness in those who can join us.

It is only by working in partnership that we can make long-term and systemic changes. It’s not going to be overnight, but it needs to become a priority for more across the industry. The key is getting the momentum going and establishing the right partnerships to really gain traction. Those that get behind this now will be leading the industry tomorrow.

So, that’s a spotlight on UKSA. What is your organisation doing to represent the diverse, incredible and inspiring communities we live and work in?

Amy Sweeting
Director of Development and Fundraising