From optimising the journey of a ship delivering liquefied natural gas from Australia to Japan, or fuels from Rotterdam to Singapore, we know our people make the difference.

In a traditionally male-dominated, hierarchical industry, where many leaders started their careers at sea before moving to shore-based roles, gender balance has for a long time seemed out of reach. We set out to change that.

womens standing on a yatch in sea

In today’s rapidly changing business environment, having gender balance is essential to ensure our business thrives. So we are looking at everything we do, from changing the way we recruit, to setting clear ambitions on diversity in the annual performance measurement of our leadership. But of course, making sure we have the right working environment matters too. Our leaders require the skills to lead a workforce that welcomes everyone, fosters diversity of thought and ensures safety and care for our people.

For this reason, we have put in place new leadership training to develop these skills. It is a programme that focuses on four key aspects of leadership:

  • Inclusion: creating clarity, inspiring colleagues and building common ground
  • Diversity: focusing on benefits of gender diversity and identifying and eradicating existing biases
  • Talent development: ensuring diversity is consistently considered throughout the recruitment process at all levels, including experienced hires, graduates and cadetships
  • Coaching: a peer-to-peer coaching programme for senior leaders, to develop core team leadership skills

We aim to build a culture that cares for all people. Our Mental Health Champions programme gives leaders the skills they need to support wellbeing in their teams and increase awareness of mental health and resilience. We have also rolled out the Big White Wall across our Fleet organisation, which allows people to anonymously raise any mental health issues they are concerned about. We believe that these types of initiatives are an important way of building a culture of care and inclusion.

Catherine Hall

While we recognise that there is no quick fix, we are already seeing improvements. Shipping and Maritime has achieved a 50/50 gender balance in our Leadership Team of 12 colleagues for the first time in our 125-year history. We have achieved this success in an industry where female executives are traditionally under-represented. Additionally, 110 men and women joined our Women in Maritime networking event in London, showing the real energy from across our business to make our workplace more representative of the societies in which we operate. I’m very proud of our commitment to date, and I look forward to our continued progress.

Catherine Hall, Commercial and Strategy General Manager, Shipping and Maritime


Bringing balance to the Upstream Leadership Team

Some areas, like Legal and Human Resources, have good gender balance. Others like our marketing business, are making strong progress. But there are areas where we need additional focus such as in Upstream (where most of our engineering roles are based) and Trading.

Bringing strong foundations through our Trader Development Programme

Building better gender balance in our Trading organisation through the Trader Development Programme, where people learn everything they need to know to become a trader.

Case studies

These describe the specific and differing challenges in some of our business areas, and the actions being taken to improve representation and build a more balanced and inclusive workplace at Shell in the UK.