At the Helm: Changing tides in the marine workforce

By Adam Quandt

The marine industry workforce has historically heavily been made up of one individual group. However, over the last 10-20 years, the tides have been shifting across the marine industry, becoming more and more diverse.

Simply hiring a more diverse workforce is just barely a start though. It’s on all of us to help create a welcoming environment that people want to work and thrive in.

The Boating Industry Women Making Waves – now in its sixth year – and the rest of this issue places emphasis on the incredible women thriving in and around the recreational marine industry that continue to make the industry better for the next generation.

In addition to creating a welcoming environment, it’s about setting up a more diverse and next generation workforce for success right off the bat.

“My retirement is not imminent, but I cannot help but be focused on the future success of our company, even for the time after I am gone. One of the best things I can do for our organization is prepare the next generation of our company’s leaders for the day when they will be in charge. I have a strong desire to make sure our team does even better after me than they do with me here; I want them to have even greater success when I am gone than we have achieved together under my leadership,” Correct Craft CEO Bill Yeargin said in a column for Boating Industry.

Mentorship programs are one of the best ways you can not only welcome a new, diverse generation of workforce, but also prepare them and your organization for success for many years to come. Currently, 84% of Fortune 500 companies offer mentoring programs and 100% of Fortune 50 companies have mentorship programs of some sort.

A study conducted by Gartner and Capital Analytics found that retention rates for mentees in a mentorship program are at 72%, compared to the 49% for employees who don’t participate in some form of mentorship.

During last year’s Women Making Waves program, past Women Making Waves Honoree and Darlene Briggs Marine Woman of the Year Wanda Kenton Smith reflected on the mentorships she’s experienced in her time in the boating industry and left a simple piece of advice for all. “Based on a lifetime and a very fulfilling career in the boating industry, my advice is simple: grab a mentor or two, do the hard work, step up, have fun and make waves!”

I just want to take a quick moment to say thank you, from all of us at Boating Industry, to this year’s Women Making Waves and all the other women in this industry for creating a welcoming space in our industry and continually pushing for a better industry tomorrow.

And congratulations to all the members of the 2023 class of Women Making Waves!

Adam Quandt is the editor-in-chief and Top 100 Program director for Boating Industry.

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