The Lloyd’s List Podcast: Shipping has an image problem
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Shipping’s image problem is not a new issue, but the pandemic has exposed the industry’s invisible status at a political level and the lack of understanding among the general public and mainstream media. That is a problem, but it is one of the industry’s own making having opted to operate in the shadows for years. Joining the podcast this week is Sabrina Chao, the new president of BIMCO, who has pledged that the task of making shipping’s voice better heard by the outside world will be at the top of her agenda over the next two years.
SHIPPING has an image problem, but this is at least partly a problem of the industry’s own making.
The shipping industry routinely complains it is an invisible and unrecognised key component of global trade. But we are an industry that has too often tried to live in the shadows, tried to be discreet, tried to be forgotten.
From the Suez Canal grounding to the currently supply chain crunch, we have had multiple opportunities to explain how shipping has kept the world moving through the pandemic, but we have collectively missed those opportunities opting instead to manage individual crises cowering behind press releases and crisis managers.
It is a common complaint that shipping lacks a sufficiently unified industry voice to address these issues and many would prefer not to address them at all.
The industry has good stories to tell, but it must also tackle the difficult ones. Recent mainstream press coverage of shipping, including the recent Black Trail documentary, featured on this podcast a few weeks ago, and the New York Times’ recent highly critical account of the International Maritime Organization, stem in part from a lack of industry engagement.
In both cases, these reports reflect genuine issues that required a response, rather than a blind assumption that industry has simply been mis-represented.
So this week asked the new president of BIMCO, Sabrina Chao, to join the podcast and talk about why she has pledged that the task of making shipping’s voice better heard by the outside world will be at the top of her agenda over the next two years.
Increasing the awareness of the important role that our industry, and crucially our seafarers, play in society will no doubt be high on everyone’s agenda over the coming week as we consider Day of the Seafarer on June 25 (it’s a topic we will be picking up with the IMO secretary general Mr Kitack Lim on next week’s podcast), but we think the issue has been sidelined for too long as a mere public relations matter to be left to others.
Now more than ever, it should be apparent that a fragmented industry voice on such issues is not just a question of reputation — it’s about our licence to operate.
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As part of our Future of Shipping Series, we are turning our attention to the question of how to innovate in shipping. We will be discussing how best to overcome the blockers and siloes preventing entrepreneurial ideas reach their full potential in the maritime space with industry leaders from Eastern Pacific Shipping, MSC, Lloyd’s Register and Rainmaking.
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