Gaining the competitive edge

Atlas Copco believes in appointing the best person for any role regardless of diversity.

Atlas Copco believes in appointing the best person for any role regardless of diversity.

Manufacturers’ Monthly caught up with Geoff Gavan, HR business partner, Atlas Copco Compressors to find out more about why the Women in Industry Awards matters a lot for the business.



June 14 will see the fifth edition of the Women in Industry Awards where the invaluable contributions of women in Australia who have achieved success through their leadership, innovation and commitment across their industries will be recognised.

Manufacturers’ Monthly spoke to Geoff Gavan, HR business partner from Atlas Copco Compressors, one of our proud sponsors for the Women in Industry Awards Rising Star of the Year Award about the power of diversity in the workplace and how it can give any business the competitive edge.

MM: There are fresh opportunities emerging around advanced manufacturing. How important is this to attracting highly skilled women into Australia’s manufacturing industry?

GG: I think the importance of attracting women into our manufacturing industry goes far beyond our ever-changing manufacturing techniques. Sure, there’s the old comments that women typically multitask more successfully than their male counterparts, however the real benefits are in the diversity of approach to a problem, or a solution.

For the same reasons that cultural diversity is necessary in creating a High performing team, women are also required. It’s not the country of birth, gender, or other attribute to a person that makes the difference. Instead, it is the diversity that is so powerful in innovation, and necessary in creating emotional engagement across a business when trying to implement.

MM: Are there traditional workplace narratives in the manufacturing industry that needs to be overcome? How has an organisation like Atlas Copco Compressors viewed this and ensured diversity in its workplace?

GG: I think that there are old school perceptions in where “the line is” with regards to trash talk in all industries, however it’s probably a little more noticeable in manufacturing (specifically shop floor manufacturing). The old boys club mentality still lingers. Of course, the behaviour is not accepted by many/any manufacturers today, however I think there is an underlying obligation to try to protect women in the industry from the behaviour that used to occur. Atlas Copco (like most other manufacturers) approach this in a couple of ways.

First, we have a zero tolerance to any behaviour that is crude, discriminatory, bullying, or isolates an individual. Diversity is our greatest asset. Secondly, we continue to refine our position advertisements, and participate in movements (like Women in Industry) to try to encourage more women to join the team. We are actively trying to overcome the past perceptions and ensure that we are attractive (as an employer and as a manufacturer) to some of the industry’s best women.

MM: What has the organisation been doing so far when it comes to grooming future leaders and what kind of role does gender diversity play in this aspect?
GG: Like most organisations, we track our diversity across an array of characteristics. We believe in appointing the best person for the role despite their diversity characteristics. The real work is performed in tailoring the ads, and candidate sourcing strategies to ensure that we are an attractive company for the diversity that we are low on.

If we can fill our employment pipelines with the correct diversity, then the rest will take care of itself. Every Atlas Copco employee is in charge of their own destiny, and our ongoing coaching and review process tries to ensure that everyone is taking appropriate steps (learning/ experience/etc) to reach their goals.

MM: With regards to question 3, what kind of mentorship programs are in place?
GG: Atlas Copco has set up a program for female engineering students to participate in our business in the form of paid internships. We have now had several students pass through our organisation and their feedback about the training and mentoring they have received is very positive. We hope that these young women come back to us once they have completed their engineering studies.

MM: How important is an event like the Women in Industry Awards to an organization like Atlas Copco Compressors?

GG: The Women in Industry Awards provides Atlas Copco with an opportunity to publicly showcase the value our business places on diversity in our workforce. Our participation in the Women in Industry Awards also flows into our broader employment branding strategy and our employee engagement levels. We are confident that over time, our diversity strategy will allow us to be seen as an employer of choice and to attract the best candidates from the broader labour market.