While still waiting on final numbers from the last few weeks of December, for advocates of equality at sea there is much to be excited about as female and non-white crew were discriminated against on yachts in at least two fewer instances last year over the previous one, globally. In absolute numbers this came out as 75,048 instances in 2014 in which a female or non-white crew member was judged, held back for promotion, passed over for employment, underpaid, insulted, made to feel unwelcome, made a pass at, or had their career options limited. This stands as an enormous drop from the 75,050 instances in which this happened over the same period in 2013.
“We’re effectively declaring mission accomplished,” Says Tim McCackcarver, head of Chamois For Change, a not-for-profit agency started to raise awareness of discriminatory practices on large yachts, and the creators of the popular pink chamois fund-raiser that brought in over €4.00 last year. “There’s a good chance we won’t even launch a campaign in 2015 at this stage, as there doesn’t seem to be much point. Clearly the industry listened to us, and have gone well out of their way in at least two fewer cases to not engage in practices that blatantly treat women and non-white crew differently from white male ones.” But once the initial headiness of the exciting results had passed Mr. McCackcarver did calm down enough to say that there was still work to be done.
“Clearly things aren’t perfect. We had over 15,000 complaints filed by female crewmembers last year for not being considered for deck or engine room opportunities, and over 10,000 complaints from crew or would-be crew of an ethnic background for not being considered for any position whatsoever, despite many of the complainants having years of experience dayworking on yachts in the Caribbean. Also, as long as yachts require a photo of the applicant on their CV, I suppose we’ll have to keep going with this whole raising awareness thing.” He said, looking exhausted, before perking up and repeating the ‘two-fewer’ stat with relish, and adding that, “Some captains really seem to be getting that women deserve the same opportunities as men, and that calling Filipino crew members ‘Flip-Flops’ is not ok, to their face or otherwise. Speaking of that particular group, in 2015 we plan to highlight the fact that it is not acceptable to pay a person, say someone from the Philippines, less than another crew member for the exact same job. I think that message will be well-received, after all it isn’t like white crew members are paid differently depending on where they’re from, despite there being significant differences in the buying strength of a salary between, say, England and South Africa.”
Never happy, the extremist group ‘More Women Captains’, says that the overall drop in instances of discrimination is simply not good enough. “Two fewer? With 75,000-odd complaints again last year? They think that’s progress? Are they serious?” Queried Susanna Aldershot, media representative for the group. When asked what change she would like to see she simply repeated the name of her organization, “More women captains.” Before going on to explain that there was an enormous amount of work ahead in a business where most crew have only ever heard that there is theoretically a female captain or two out there somewhere that someone saw driving a large yacht once. “What we hear a lot of is there aren’t that many female candidates available for those upper tier jobs. Well, clearly, as there is very little encouragement and a shed load of discouragement for young women attempting to enter or come up through the deck side of the business. Change this and you will have plenty of female candidates vying for the Master positions, and I believe you will also see a dissipation of the myth that many owner’s aren’t interested in a woman for a captain.”
Reached for a follow-up comment, Mr. McCackcarver agreed that ‘More Women Captains’ had a point, but said he wasn’t really sure what they were after and anyway, “Man! Two fewer instances. I mean, c’mon, thats change right there.”