Bjorn Tore Larsen has four daughters, none of whom have yet shown an interest in joining the family shipping business.

While the next generation of Larsens are pursuing careers in teaching, healthcare, law and aviation, the ADS Crude Carriers chairman and chief executive of OSM Ship Management is focused on tackling gender equality in shipping.

“Talent, generally, is a scarce commodity,” Larsen says. “If we only look into 50% of the potential talent, we don’t do ourselves a favour.

Not politically correct

“The main reason we want to encourage more women onboard our ships, as well as in leadership positions ashore, is it will make us a better company. We can choose between far more good people and it will benefit us.

“From a business position, it's smart. We are not trying to be politically correct; we are trying to be smart.”

While Larsen says his ADS Crude and OSM companies would always look to recruit the best person, that required a new definition.

“Sometimes you copy the advertisement of yesterday when you are looking to find the position of tomorrow,” he says.

“That is not the best way to attract both genders. Being broader in defining what kind of candidate we are looking for and looking actively to find candidates of both genders.”

A boy's toys industry

Larsen says shipping is historically a boy’s toys industry much like aviation, where the family is also active.

“We are actively hiring female pilots and still only 5% of the pilot population is female, but that is going to grow quite a lot in the future,” Larsen says.

One of his daughters is training to be a pilot and, during her education, he has seen a change in the number of women looking to follow the same path.

“We can see there are more females going into that industry," he says. "That dam is bursting.

“In shipping we are a little bit behind, I’m sorry to say, but we will do whatever we can to bring more ladies into the organisation, which will be very beneficial.”

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