RNLI volunteers have reported facing sexist behaviour after being stopped from going out on missions in favour of male colleagues.

Female volunteers said their mental health has been “ruined” by the attitudes of some colleagues in the lifeboat charity.

The revelations come after a cultural review was launched at one station amid suggestions of “pervasive” bigotry within the charity nationally.

Documents first reported by The Times include reports that women volunteers at Hastings lifeboat station had been sidelined from missions in favour of “alpha male” colleagues.

In a comment in the internal survey, one person wrote: “I have never been at a station/around a branch and NOT heard an inappropriate comment or joke regarding race, sex or sexual orientation”.

The RNLI, founded in 1824, has stations across Sussex including Hastings, Littlehampton and Shoreham.


The survey documents reveal that many feel that some men do not want women in the boats and say how men have been favoured for promotions despite not having the necessary qualifications.

Sue Barnes, people director at the charity, apologised for the behaviour faced by some volunteers, adding: “There is no place for misogynistic, sexist and non-inclusive behaviours at the RNLI and we are committed to taking action and tackling such behaviour.

“The RNLI takes allegations and concerns raised by volunteers and staff very seriously and has a process in place to ensure these are heard and investigated. We have a code of conduct which outlines the behaviours and values which we expect our staff and volunteers to adhere to. Where these standards fall short, we will act.

“We encourage people to call out unacceptable behaviours and are committed to investigating and taking action where behaviour falls below the standards we expect. We have a range of methods that our people can use to report unacceptable behaviour, including a whistleblowing reporting line hosted by a third party.”