‘Times have changed’ - Inspiring a generation for both men and women

‘Times have changed’ - Inspiring a generation for both men and women

'We should be using our roles to promote inclusivity and a workplace for all, that’s what it’s all about.'
Deputy to the SOSREP Lisa McAuliffe standing with coastguard colleagues onboard a vessel

As part of this year’s International Women’s Day, the Deputy to the Secretary of State’s Representative for Maritime Salvage and Intervention (SOSREP) has highlighted the importance of creating a diverse and inclusive workplace for everyone.

In 2018 Lisa McAuliffe became the first woman to be appointed a Deputy to the SOSREP. This is a role which during maritime emergencies empowers Lisa to make time critical decisions on behalf of the Secretary of State for Transport during a shipping incident, or the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero. This is a role she takes seriously but also enjoys. 

Lisa says it is the combination of both men and women that brings “different dimensions and perspective to a team”, adding “work should never be about gender, but about recognising the individual”.

In 1970 women were allowed to join HM Coastguard for the first time, and now, from counter pollution to fishing safety, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency celebrates the inclusion of women across the agency.

“Traditionally roles in HM coastguard were held by men as they were the ones who went to sea and therefore had that maritime experience, but times have changed,” Lisa said.

“It has taken time to evolve but now all genders have just as much experience and skills in the maritime sector as men once did.

“I was a young woman coming into this job and age added a different challenge, but it was a positive experience in lots of ways as I was able to add a new voice and bring new skills to the role.”

Deputy to the SOSREP Lisa McAuliffe and SOSREP Stephan Hennig at seaOne of Lisa’s personal SOSREP achievements was last year; leading the response to an incident near Wolf Rock Lighthouse in Falmouth, where a vessel lost power and ran aground. 

The response to the stricken vessel was led by the Deputy to the SOSREP, with the co-operation and collaboration of key, critical stakeholders; resulting in all remaining safe and no pollution. 

“Tough decisions had to be made, but this is why this role was created,” Lisa said, “gender didn’t have an effect on this, it was just about making the right call and having the support of the teams and organisations around me, no matter what their gender.”

Nodding to the theme of International Women’s Day - Inspire Inclusion - Lisa noted the importance of an equal and accommodating workplace, in particular when it comes to childcare. 

“As time has moved on the MCA has evolved its position on childcare and support. Being a parent, and in my case a single parent, this shouldn’t impact your career”, she said, “there are mothers and fathers who have to and want to work, as well as bringing up children, and that isn’t easy.

“A workplace should be flexible to support staff with children or other caring responsibilities, which in turn will improve inclusion and work productivity.”

Lisa said: “To not be inclusive means missing out on so many experts, so many skilled and wonderful people who can bring so much to your team. It shouldn’t matter what you look like or what your gender is, you’re still a person with feelings that will bring something special to your team.

“Evolution and change is absolutely necessary and the MCA is very good at this, but there is always more work to be done. We should be using our roles to promote inclusivity and a workplace for all, trying to inspire the next generation, that’s what it’s all about.”


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