‘[Let’s] raise our hands, take some action, don’t just wait …’ said Lisa Bauer, CEO & president, Starboard Cruise Services, as she spoke about diversity, equity and inclusion during the Professional Women in Cruise ‘DEI Panel Discussion’ at Seatrade Cruise Global.

A need for training in unconscious bias was put forward by Bauer as she explained, ‘It’s putting your money and your time and your effort into it, and making it real.’ LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton SE — Starboard’s owner — has a leadership team comprised of 53% women, she noted, adding that Starboard signed up ‘years ago’ to the United Nations code of conduct for businesses, to tackle discrimination against LGBTI people. 

This followed Port Everglades Department Operations Supervisor Anna Silver’s comment: ‘Equity is being invited to the dance, inclusion is about being invited to dance.’

The discussion carried on the theme of ways to improve diversity within the cruise industry, which went under the spotlight during the earlier ‘Diversity and Inclusion with Onboard Entertainment’ session. 

Not a ‘tick box’ exercise

Ying-Wei Huang, president, South Florida Diversity Council Chapter and VP corporate talent management, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, also supported Bauer’s outlook on the need for unconscious bias training. Urging cultural sensitivity, she admonished those who view DEI as a ‘tick box exercise,’ recounting her own experience growing up with Taiwanese heritage in the Dominican Republic.

Women in Maritime Association Caribbean President Dwynette Eversley, meanwhile, used the opportunity to shed light on the discrimination of women, which she described as a ‘human rights issue.’

Describing equity as ‘a wide and broad concept,’ she asserted, ‘I call myself a defender of women’s rights and empowerment.’ 

Barely a hand was raised when Eversley asked the audience if they had not experienced ‘some kind of discrimination as a woman in shipping.’ 

Her advice was to encourage women to ‘develop a strong network of male allies.’