September 30, 2020
Surprising it may be not, but neither the production industry nor the mining and construction industries have traditionally stood out as shining beacons of gender diversity. But that is slowly changing. Or, as in the case of Epiroc’s Underground division, hopefully blazing ahead.
As of 2019, around 15 percent of all Epiroc Underground division employees were women. In some departments, like Finance and HR, the number was higher. In other areas, much lower – for example, women blue collar employees comprised a mere 8 percent of the total. By the end of 2021, however, the goal is to have no less than 25 percent women employees in the division. For Epiroc group, the goal is to double the number of women in operational roles by 2030.
“We are working strategically to improve diversity in general and gender diversity in particular. We believe that this will have a number of positive and measurable effects on, for example, productivity, efficiency, decision-making and collaboration. Research in the area unambiguously supports these conclusions,” says Sami Niiranen, President of the Underground division, continuing:
“The focus on diversity has to permeate all levels in the company and everything we do, from the management team to employer branding. Also, to appeal to a broader number of people while recruiting, we have to find ways to better visualize our operations. Diversity is increasingly on our customers’ agendas, as well. We have to make sure our solutions are designed to be gender neutral.”
Carin Bergendorff, Vice President of Operations for the Underground division, is perfectly onboard with the goal and is one of the driving forces behind improving diversity:
“The challenges differ across our sites globally, but we are working to improve diversity and inclusion everywhere. This will lead to better decisions and higher productivity. We’ve had the goal of 25 percent women for a number of years now, but there’s been no real improvement over time. We have to start thinking differently.”
According to Carin Bergendorff, there are a number of strategies in motion. Looking over the employer branding of the company to appeal to more women is one way, as is finding female role models to inspire both present and prospective employees. There is an active Diversity Network in place, where people like Helena Hedblom (recently appointed president and CEO of Epiroc) has talked about careers, successes and challenges. The FemTech network and the Female Mentorship Program are other channels through which Epiroc can inspire and educate, as well as come into contact with prospective employees.
“Recruitment is a key component of success. Of course, recruitment by competence will always be paramount. But we have to pinpoint and perhaps redefine what the desirable competencies actually are,” says Carin Bergendorff.
The qualities considered desirable in the Epiroc of today and the near future include adaptability and agility, open mindset, sustainable thinking and familiarity with working in a digital environment. Recruitment efforts – and ads – should reflect that.
“We have to be open to, and value, other viewpoints and perspectives than the traditional ones in this business. It’s important that we challenge ourselves to think outside the box.”
Carin Bergendorff is the first to concede that she needs to be challenged herself from time to time. She appreciates being called out and being forced to reflect on her decisions and way of thinking.
“Let me give you one example: we’ve challenged ourselves to always produce at least one female final candidate for every position we recruit for. If we haven’t found one which, I admit, I too have sometimes failed to do, we have to go the extra mile and look again outside our regular recruiting grounds. Our ultimate goal is to not even have to think about these issues and have it all come naturally,” says Carin Bergendorff.