Diversity and inclusion

The RNLI is an established organisation with a proud history of saving lives at sea, served by some long-standing traditions that have sustained us for almost 200 years.

But in a rapidly changing world, we have to respond to the needs of our communities in the 21st century.

In order to do this, we need to recruit the best people both as volunteers and staff, who will be able to bring a diverse range of perspectives and skills to their roles.

Attracting a diversity of people is crucial if we are to continue to prevent drowning and save lives because it means we can deliver the operational resources and fundraising and safety initiatives that are vital to our work.

Being inclusive and appreciating diversity is becoming part of the day-to-day work of the RNLI, from action-planning in teams following training to being a core pillar of senior leadership and management development. But we want it to become intrinsic to everything we do.

Shaping our sustainable future

As an organisation with a prestigious past, we’re now shaping a sustainable future by valuing the benefits that our diverse range of people can bring.

Through our Sustainability Plan, we’re aiming to achieve greater diversity and a heightened awareness of the value of inclusivity amongst our volunteers, staff and supporters.

Here are some of the ways we’re working towards this. 

Diversity amongst the crew

To sustain our ability to save lives in the future, we’re encouraging diversity among our lifeboat crews. Whilst the majority of our crew are male, we have a growing number of female crew, helms and coxswains.


We are aligned to equality charity Stonewall as a Diversity Champion and take part in a bi-annual benchmarking exercise to help us focus on areas of development.

As an organisation, we are encouraging consultation and network groups and have recently seen the emergence of a Women’s Network.  It is fully inclusive, welcomes men for the perspective they can bring and provides a space for discussion, support and personal development.

Network groups will, in future, also provide a means for consultation on policy.

Flexible working

To encourage a more diverse workforce and meet the needs of our existing staff, we are facilitating the growth of flexible working with targeted initiatives and an Agile Working Project.