“It was through the sailing ship that man learned about the planet. Through the sailing ship, the peoples of the earth grew closer, learned about each other, traded silks and furs, iron and coal, lumber and wheat-supporting one another, helping one another, beginning to understand one another. And often, when understanding failed and darkness fell upon the lands, the ships kept open the sea routes until such time as the light might reappear.”

Barclay Warburton, Founder of American Sail Training Association, 1980

Background

Tall Ships America and our community of vessel owners and operators, sail training programs and tall ship mariners have been talking about issues of diversity and inclusion across the fleet for years. Discussions at the Annual Conference on Sail Training and Tall Ships in February of 2020 highlighted the need for increasing awareness and understanding in our community along with a desire for leadership and support for taking action.

This plan is an organizational commitment to make diversity, equity and inclusion a priority in the sail training and tall ships community. It signifies a commitment to taking action, monitoring progress, being accountable and providing evidence of change.

A DEI Committee was established by the Executive Director in July 2020 and the Committee will inform and influence the plan for action and update the plan as steps are taken and progress is made. The terms of reference for the Committee are attached, along with the list of volunteer committee members who will work with the staff and Board to implement the plan.

Principles

We believe education is the cornerstone of change and our mission is firmly grounded in education.

We were founded on the belief that the tall ships and sail training carry messages of hope, cultural exchange, learning life skills and leadership to the world.

We will work with our members to promote and support their work to create a more diverse community.

We know we need to do more and do better to create diverse governance structures, inclusive messages, and equitable, safe spaces and opportunities for all people.

Approach

Tall Ships America is embedding diversity, equity and inclusion in our work by:

  • Dedicating resources to connect sail training and education to empowerment of individuals and strengthening communities;
  • Creating education and training experiences for our members that enlighten, support, encourage and promote greater understanding and better practices across the North American fleet;
  • Increasing the visibility and desirability of opportunities within our fleet for all people; and
  • Exposing gaps of participation in sail training by any segments of society and exploring ways to fill those gaps with and through our members.

Resources

  1. Our members, working diligently to create diverse and representative workforces, governance structures and educational platforms.
  2. Staff experience, education and expertise in black history and maritime heritage to highlight positive historical perspectives as catalyst of change for the future.
  3. Staff experience, education and expertise in leadership, education, change and working to overcome obstacles to participation for people from all parts of society.
  4. Communications channels and platforms that reach hundreds of thousands of people across America.
  5. Dedicated education and professional development events to create focused and facilitated conversation, provide training opportunities and highlight the significant contribution people of color and others make to the maritime world.
  6. Board commitment to support organizational efforts and bring about change.

Timeline

The first working meeting of the DEI Committee is on August 25, 2020, and the committee will set action items and work plans to be carried out and monitored through December 31, 2021. The Committee will report on its efforts to the Board of Directors and the Member community.