Columbia launches female cadet mentoring program

Written by Nick Blenkey
female cadet mentoring program leaders

Claudia Paschkewitz, Columbia Group’s managing director of sustainability, diversity & inclusion, with second officer Olena Kokorieva. [Photo: Columbia Group]

As part of its bid to attract more women into the maritime sector, the Columbia Group, which includes Cyprus headquartered Columbia Shipmanagement, has launched a mentoring program aimed at female cadets.

Recognizing that maritime is missing out on a great deal of female talent who could bring different perspectives and more ideas and innovation, the group is underscoring its commitment to creating a more diverse workforce with the 12-month mentoring program.

Columbia hopes that the program will not only attract more females onboard vessels, but help to retain them in the industry past cadetship, especially when faced with a number of career challenges such as the flexibility needed for juggling work and home life.

“We need to change the culture in the industry surrounding women and make it more viable for them to have a career in maritime, so that we can attract and widen the pool of talent that we draw from,” said program leader Claudia Paschkewitz, Columbia Group’s managing director of sustainability, diversity & inclusion. “We hope that our new mentoring program will provide the emotional support and encouragement that female cadets may need to make them feel comfortable and confident in their roles.”

The program acknowledges evidence from a 2019 Solent University Report which highlights that mentoring schemes are also able to reduce costs related to health and safety, as well as decreasing staff turnover.

Columbia is drawing on the services of corporate wellbeing provider OneCare Solutions (OCS) for training of the program’s mentors, who will be senior female colleagues based in different departments onshore. Each will be trained to deal with situations such as sexual harassment and bullying, and assigned to one female cadet in the fleet for their whole 12 months of sea service.

To ensure the success of its cadetship program, Columbia Group is appealing for the support of mentors and captains alike and all captains of vessels in the fleet which have female cadets assigned to them will receive contact details for the cadets’ mentors prior to embarkation, thus encouraging communication between mentors and their mentees.

“Our mentors will provide a safe and supportive environment so cadets can seek advice or voice any concerns they may have,” said Paschkewitz. “Through the female cadet mentoring program the cadets can develop the skills and knowledge to succeed in their careers and, one day, become leaders in the maritime industry themselves.”

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