How Maersk Tankers built a more inclusive recruitment process with Develop Diverse

Maersk Tankers
Maersk Tankers

Maersk Tankers is a company with a long legacy in the shipping industry. Founded in 1928, the company commercially manages over 200 tankers in its fleet today, which make almost 3,000 voyages each year. 

Back in 2017, Maersk Tankers separated from A. P. Moller – Maersk A/S— and the company went from being part of a conglomerate of around 80,000 employees to being an independent company with a much smaller workforce. 

At the same time, the tanker industry was facing new and complex challenges, such as the need to become more sustainable and digital. Maersk Tankers knew they needed a company and employer branding overhaul to complement the transition. 

However, when they analysed their recruitment data, they realised that they had a few challenges they needed to focus on first — and that’s when they found Develop Diverse. 

Kathrine Benzon, HR Business Partner at Maersk Tankers, explains how Develop Diverse helped improve their pipeline of female candidates and reshape the recruitment strategy.

“Inclusion is vital to us at Maersk Tankers — and our work on our recruitment process has trickled into other areas of our business. Develop Diverse encourages our managers to actively reflect what they’re putting in their job advert, and why it’s important.”

— Kathrine Benzon, HR Business Partner, Maersk Tankers
Kathrine Benzon — Maersk Tankers

Navigating diversity challenges amid organisational change

“When we split from our parent company, we became a much smaller organisation. Our industry was also facing new and complex challenges that required a more diverse workforce. As a result, we needed to figure out who we wanted to be as a company, and the type of people we wanted to attract.”

With a 90-year legacy behind them, Maersk Tankers needed to anchor their identity as a purpose-led company and employer in their own right to hire the workforce essential to ensuring their ongoing success and to create the innovation that was needed to solve the challenges of the industry. 

Trouble is, they didn’t know exactly how they were coming across to candidates — or who was applying for their roles.

“When we analysed our data, we realised that our workforce was actually quite diverse in terms of nationalities. In our Copenhagen office alone, we had 20 different nationalities among our 150 employees. We also realised our company was very diverse when it came to age, and educational backgrounds.”

Maersk Tankers’ approach to recruitment was clearly working across a range of different dimensions of diversity — but the company wasn’t attracting as many women as it wanted to.

“When it came to gender, our data showed that we were falling short. There was a huge gap between the applications from male candidates and those from females.”

— Kathrine Benzon, HR Business Partner, Maersk Tankers

 

“Building a diverse team is so important to us,” she adds. “Diversity gives us new ideas and new ways of working — but it also impacts our performance. And even more importantly than that, we needed to create a workplace climate that better reflected the diversity of the society we live in.”

Empowering managers to take ownership of the recruitment process

Implementing Develop Diverse helped Kathrine and her team make more conscious language choices in their job adverts, and meant that hiring managers at Maersk Tankers felt more equipped to write more inclusive job adverts. 

But improved pipeline diversity was only the first step. 

Solving Maersk Tankers’ diversity and inclusion challenges was never going to happen overnight — but Kathrine and her team had a feeling that their recruitment pages and job adverts were key to making change happen. 

"We knew that the language on our website and job adverts has an impact on who applies to our roles,” she says. “When we audited our recruitment website, we realised that our experience was not inclusive enough. There were a lot of photos of tankers and men in overalls — and our job adverts were a long list of lots of different responsibilities, instead of a few, more focused, competencies."

— Kathrine Benzon, HR Business Partner, Maersk Tankers

“We realised that we needed to make changes to our career site to make it more inclusive to a diverse group of talents and communicate more about who we are as an employer. One candidate even told us that our mention of our Thursday bar in the job advert made her feel excluded, because she had a young child. And that was such an eye-opener for me — I realised that the things we consider as a value proposition might not be interpreted by our candidates in the same way.” 

Kathrine knew that she needed to get hiring managers on board if she wanted to get more female applicants through the door. For her, that meant empowering them with the knowledge and tools to make more conscious language choices in their job adverts.

“It’s really important for us to empower our hiring managers to own their entire recruitment process. Hiring managers are the ones that understand the gaps in their team, and will be working closely with a new employee — so it’s critical for them to understand what competencies they need, and translate that into a job advertisement.”

“In the past, our hiring managers would spend around ten minutes writing a job advert — usually copying and pasting something they’d used before,” she explains. “But that won’t work for us any more — it doesn’t help us find the candidate that fulfils the role best, and it definitely doesn’t work for inclusion.”

“Now, we work with our hiring managers to narrow the role focus to a few competencies, and then we use Develop Diverse to help us analyse our language choices,” she says. “It encourages our managers to actively reflect what they’re putting in their job advert, and why it’s important.”

— Kathrine Benzon, HR Business Partner, Maersk Tankers

Embedding cultural change across the whole organisation

Implementing Develop Diverse helped Kathrine and her team make more conscious language choices in their job adverts, and meant that hiring managers at Maersk Tankers felt more equipped to write more inclusive job adverts. 

But improved pipeline diversity was only the first step. 

“At the start of this project, we set ambitious goals to improve our gender balance,” Kathrine says. “But as we learned more, we shifted our focus to fostering inclusion across our whole company. As a result, we completely redesigned our recruitment process.“ 

“Our hiring managers now lead our screening interviews and start that initial conversation with our candidates instead of HR. They’re voice-only calls, meaning there’s no room for beauty bias — and managers can more accurately assess skills, and if it feels like a good dialogue.”

“We have also standardised our interview questions so that each candidate is consistently assessed on the same criteria. When we run assessments, we don’t provide hiring managers with the results until they get into the interview room so that it doesn’t skew their opinions of a candidate’s level of skill or knowledge.”

“Our candidates love the process, because they feel like they’re able to make a connection with our managers — and our managers do too, because it gives them clearer and fairer criteria on how to assess competencies.” 

Over time, this larger cultural transformation has yielded some impressive results. Maersk Tankers saw a significant increase in female applicants, which led to increased female hires. In 2021, over half of the company’s new hires were women.

But it’s also put the gears in motion for a larger cultural transformation that goes beyond recruitment. 

“Inclusion is vital to us at Maersk Tankers — and our work on our recruitment process has trickled into other areas of our business. We’ve changed how we do our performance assessments to create more individual ownership, and we’ve created more equitable bonus structures.“ ‍ 

“We know that change takes time — and now we’re a smaller company, we’re able to spend more time embedding those cultural changes so that our organisation is an inclusive space where people can express themselves and be themselves.”

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