In pursuit of workforce diversity

Atlas Copco Compressors will return as a sponsor for the sixth edition of the Women in Industry Awards in 2019. Manufacturers’ Monthly caught up with the company to see how it is pursuing its own diversity strategy.


This past June saw the fifth edition of the Women in Industry Awards, which recognises the invaluable contributions of women working in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) industries. One of the proud supporters of the Awards was Atlas Copco Compressors, which sponsored the Rising Star of the Year Award.

Atlas Copco Compressors will also support the 2019 edition of the Women in Industry Awards, making it a three-time sponsor. The company’s involvement, according to its HR business partner, Geoff Gavan, fits right in with its longstanding commitment to promoting gender diversity and inclusivity across its own workforce.

“Part of our branding strategy is continuing our participation in the Women in Industry Awards,” Gavan said. “And that support is part of our diversity strategy – a program that we want to support and raise the profile of.”

Gavan said that it was important that perceptions of STEM and manufacturing as being exclusively suited to males were broken down. “Women are currently underrepresented in these fields. It doesn’t make sense for STEM or technical fields to continue to be male-dominated when women make up half of the population,” he said.

“That’s half of the intellectual horse-power that we’re trying to tap into. And, as a business, we need to think of it from that point of view. There’s a lot of smart people out there that we’re not accessing unless we become a bit more diverse in our approach.”

Atlas Copco Compressors’ approach involves putting in place recruitment programs and branding strategies aimed at attracting more females to work for the company.

“We at Atlas Copco have workforce here in Australia that is essentially an engineering workforce. We, as manufacturers, need to have strategies that get more women who come from science, technology, engineering educational backgrounds working with us,” he said.

Offering opportunities

Over the past 18 months, the company has been running a program offering paid internships for females still studying at university to work with its engineering team.

“Getting young women to work with Atlas Copco while they are studying is a great way of having them involved with the company at an early stage of their career, which potentially puts them on a fruitful long-term trajectory with the company.

“Our business has a fairly open culture where we mentor our employees and provide ongoing career coaching,” said Gavan. “We also have development processes in place which will allow any employee – including female employees – to grow with our business.”

And, when it comes to recruitment, Atlas Copco Compressors advertises internally throughout the business as well as externally (including globally for many roles), allowing an interchange of a diverse range of people between business units and between countries.

In its determination to make its workforce more diverse and its culture more inclusive, Atlas Copco Compressors has established goals that drive its recruitment strategies. “We have internal targets and KPIs that we’ve set ourselves for the recruitment of female employees – it is kind of an internal ‘affirmative action’ type of program,” said  Gavan.

“And, so far, it’s working. For instance, we’ve got a university student here at the moment who has moved from an internship into a permanent role.”

Achieving these targets entails Atlas Copco Compressors using targeted branding strategies for its recruitment marketing. The company tailors its advertisements  and candidate sourcing strategies to reflect its inclusive and diverse culture.

“Our recruitment advertising is very gender neutral and we aim to attract females as much as we can,” Gavan said. “We want to give opportunities to people from diverse backgrounds. And, in providing those opportunities, we are opening ourselves up to getting the most skilled people for the roles our business requires.”

Gavan said that the Women in Industry Awards was an excellent way of promoting the achievements of skilled women and that Atlas Copco Compressors’ sponsorship showed it was serious about attracting women into its company.

“I think it gives Atlas Copco an important profile to be able to fit in with our branding strategy and our diversity strategy. It’s important to be seen to support these awards – such as the Rising Star of the Year Award, which we sponsored this year – because we are striving to bring the best and the brightest, regardless of their background, into our workforce.”