All Aboard: On championing diversity, equity, and inclusion

By TGN Editorial Team | March 8, 2023


Defying divergence and working towards common goals have always been the two main ingredients to create a taste of success in any team. Digging deeper, there are additional ingredients that make the secret sauce to success which builds winning teams, making them even more potent: acceptance, involvement through representation, understanding the unique needs of people, and making sure that everyone is on board.

Just like any other industry and business, both the maritime industry and Thome Group have long realized the value of ushering in diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) to excel and provide a quality service, thus the continuous fostering of DEI within the organization.

Thome Group’s Captain of the Bow Neon Rajesh Kumar Todiwan and Ardmore Cherokee Captain Nicolae Găinușe share their thoughts on the correlation and importance of practicing DEI and good onboard performance.



Captain Rajesh Kumar Todiwan of Bow Neon

Aside from Thome’s Core Values, what kind of practices are being cultivated and instilled in the crew you handle?

I believe by implementing initiatives such as diversity training and inclusion policies, we have created an environment where everyone feels respected and heard, resulting in better communication and improved collaboration among the crew onboard. A successful team is one that can develop a culture of collaboration and trust. Everyone has a job description, so it is equitable for all. The work culture in our ship is very corporate with no preferential treatment given to anyone on any grounds.


What is the importance of incorporating these practices in your crew?

Working on a ship requires unique skills and abilities. This culture should reflect the mission of the vessel and its purpose to ensure that everyone is working towards a common goal. Through this, crew members learn how to cooperate with one another while also respecting each other’s differences. The inclusive environment onboard creates a more cohesive and effective team dynamic, allowing them to complete their tasks successfully. In addition, I believe in an open-door policy; my team is free to reach out to me whenever they feel the need. I ensure this culture through clear communication, respect for individual strengths and weaknesses, and where everyone feels comfortable expressing their ideas.


What are the practices and activities that you do onboard to further promote this kind of culture on board?

Activities such as team-building exercises, open dialogue, and feedback loops help in incorporating DEI onboard ships. I call everyone by their name, giving each crew member the importance of personalised engagement. All festivals are celebrated with the same level of fervor.

I try to sensitise the crew towards a culture that ensures all crew members are treated with respect and dignity regardless of their race, gender, or background. Socialising through sports and parties is a great way to drive this message home to everyone.



Captain Nicolae Găinușe of Ardmore Cherokee

Aside from Thome’s Core Values, what kind of practices are being cultivated and instilled in the crew you handle?

We should bear in mind that onboard activity is mostly a technical one – meaning all crew forms an entire ecosystem of decisions, compliance, and execution. One of our crew members, 3/O Jyoti, is a female seafarer. Guidance was provided by the Group but implementing it is the challenging part. I talked with the crew before Jyoti joined the vessel on very particular matters that we must consider – from behaviors, and understanding and accepting her background, to being considerate when some aspects are not as what we expect them to be in terms of approaching or judging various situations at sea. After all, it’s just about being ourselves, accepting diversity on board, and focusing on performance.


What is the importance of incorporating these practices in your crew?

The culture is good when it is built on strong education-related behaviours and acceptance. We, as seamen, are used to facing many situations when things are not going as planned. We must be flexible enough to manage change. These new practices are no different to managing situational changes. The background was there – we just need to adapt and act accordingly.

How is the crew responding to these practices on board?

I always say that this “wave of changes” comes from the top. From the very beginning, I outlined some limits, especially concerning respect, acceptance, and cooperation. As for my crew, we have encountered no issues. This has been possible because I identified the potential flashpoints in good time and took some action like conducting private discussions and encouraging the crew and 3/O Jyoti to collaborate and actively participate in all activities, including those out of working time.


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