A new employee-led group to support women has been created by staff at Carnival UK.

The aim of the Athena initiative is to ensure women at the Southampton-based cruise company are given equal opportunities to develop and thrive, irrespective of current level or position.

The group was founded by employees Emma Kenny, Rosy Sims and Brodie McIntosh with support from the executive board of the umbrella company for P&O Cruises, Cunard, Princess Cruises, Holland America and Seabourn.

Athena will develop forums to spotlight topical issues and to provide a voice for women within Carnival UK.

It wants to bring people together to develop, network and thrive by offering support and connections for like-minded individuals to grow personally and professionally.

The group will be marking International Women’s Day 2018 on Thursday by recognising inspirational women around the business as well as welcoming guest speaker Kiki Maurey OBE for a talk and training on “What’s your personal brand?”.

Carnival UK president Josh Weinstein said: “Athena is a positive, pro-active group formed by Emma, Rosy and Brodie on their own initiative rather than an HR-led directive, and I couldn’t be prouder.

“The more diverse points of view and perspectives that we can bring to the business – and the more skilled we can get at ensuring everyone’s voice is heard in an inclusive environment – the more innovative we can be and the better we can be at decision making. It’s ethical, smart, profitable and contagious.

“It’s an important thing for us all to be passionate about and I whole-heartedly believe it’s the right thing to do.”

Co-founder Rosy Sims said: “We recognise there are many forms of inequality in the world and in business but our primary goal is to focus on factors that typically apply to women.

“When women fulfil their potential, everyone benefits – in the workplace and more broadly in society.

“We are very fortunate to have passion and support throughout the business and as such we will be able to make a real difference, both personally and professionally to lives of the Athena members.”