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Thursday, December 14, 2017

Be proactive in demonstrating social and environmental responsibility, says the younger up-and-coming generation

INTERTANKO's recent Athens Tanker Event included one conference session 'Through the Looking Glass', where journalists and maritime students were asked for their perceptions of the tanker industry. 

Filaretos Christou, a student in the Department of Shipping Trade and Transport at the University of the Aegean, expressed the view that in order to convince the public that the tanker industry has improved and still is improving, tanker shipping companies should take a more proactive role in demonstrating their corporate social and environmental responsibility, rather than passively implementing international rules and regulations governing their industry. 

Corporate social responsibility is a company's voluntary integration of social and environmental issues in its activities and in its relations with workers and local communities, said Christou. A socially responsible company should look for long-term versus short-term profit, optimum profit versus maximum profit, and stakeholder value versus shareholder value. 

Specifically, their focus in this context should be on crewing, education, class, flag and procedures, he suggested.  

- The competence of a company's human resources increases its competitive advantage. In order to save costs many shipping companies apply different management practices to ship and shore personnel, with ship staff not usually enjoying permanent employment, receiving lower social security and less training. But good companies with consistent management practices attract better quality officers and crew in the first place. 

- Universities are educating the new generation that will be running the shipping industry in the future. Shipping industry support of education through scholarships, seminars and internships will mean better education and better quality personnel, as well as more focused research for the industry to draw on. 

- A shipping company's choice of classification society is related to its ethics. A well-known society is consistent in performing its duties such as vessel inspections and implementation of safety procedures. This consistency will be reflected in better quality services. 

- A shipping company's choice of flag depends on political, economic and legal factors. There are a number of flags which are incapable of effectively inspecting a ship and ensuring proper maintenance and quality of ship and crew, but they offer cash savings and operational flexibility. Choosing a quality flag may carry higher costs, but it ensures a lower risk of incidents/accidents and creates a better reputation.

 - One important step in adopting corporate social responsibility and improving the industry's image is the adoption of ISO 14001, which involves the voluntary implementation of procedures which ensure consistent and continuous management and protection of the environment. It is a tool whereby a company may determine and control the impact of its actions on the environment.  

This is one viewpoint. Not all will agree with it. But it is the viewpoint of a group of bright, motivated young maritime students who in fifteen years time could be running the tanker industry of the 2020s. 

Contact: Bill Box