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Komatsu: Evolving diversity programs

Diversity programs are vital for attracting and retaining talent at Komatsu Australia.

The construction and mining industry has always been male-dominated, but global equipment manufacturer Komatsu is working to change that.

Mel Morrison, General Manager of Human Resources at Komatsu Australia, says the Australian business has a three-year roadmap for inclusion and diversity. 

“Komatsu believes that achieving greater diversity within industrial sectors has the power to be transformative. But we also acknowledge that there is a long way to go. There is work to do, and we are committed to doing it,” she says.

Key elements of the diversity strategy include advancing women in leadership, challenging stereotypes while embracing Komatsu’s richly diverse culture, promoting the wide range of careers the industry offers, and bridging the gender pay gap.

“With the Workplace Gender Equality Agency’s recent publication of gender pay gap reporting, the level of interest in this topic is very high,” Morrison says. “And it is a challenge of greater magnitude in our industry than in many others. There have been historically roadblocks to attracting female talent.”

Part of that, she says, stretches back to the challenges of getting women into science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM) careers.

“I think we are making headway in this regard,” Morrison says. “We are promoting STEM careers in universities and TAFEs, as well as at the grassroots level in schools. We spend significant time connecting with schools, as it helps us develop the connections early for our award-winning apprentice and graduate programs.”

Providing opportunities for women requires a solid commitment to workplace diversity and inclusion.
Providing opportunities for women requires a solid commitment to workplace diversity and inclusion.

Komatsu has aspirations of increasing the proportion of women for entry-level recruitment to 30-50 per cent. However, attracting female applicants for trade apprenticeships has required a sustained focus. This year, over 40 per cent of Komatsu’s apprenticeship applications were from women, and the 2024 apprenticeship cohort is represented by over 40 per cent females. 

Making the workplace family-friendly

Supporting parents and families in the workplace is another critical element in promoting inclusion and diversity.

“We have been focusing heavily on ensuring we provide an environment for people of all genders and backgrounds to have a thriving career,” Morrison says. “For example, we’ve recently introduced Families at Komatsu, a family-friendly policy that supports both women and men in balancing work and family commitments.

“We’ve increased our paid parental leave to 16 weeks for primary carers and four weeks for secondary carers. Even before the recent government announcement, we were already paying superannuation on top of our paid parental leave. It’s about helping our employees through their critical life milestones.”


 

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Champions of Change Coalition

Komatsu Australia’s CEO, Sean Taylor, is a member of the Champions of Change Coalition, a globally recognised, innovative strategy for achieving gender equality, advancing women into leadership roles, and building respectful and inclusive workplaces. 

The Coalition sees men in positions of influence commit to leadership and accountability for change on gender equality issues in their organisations and communities.

“Through Sean’s participation in this Coalition, he is signalling a very strong personal commitment to diversity, not only within our business, but across the broader industry in which we operate”, Morrison says.

Challenging stereotypes

Part of the evolution of Komatsu’s inclusion and diversity program is developing a culture where women can picture themselves in any role, from the workshop to the boardroom.

“We want to position ourselves to attract as diverse an application pool as possible,” Morrison says. “The business expects recruiters to provide a minimum number of female candidates for every role. Komatsu embraces diversity on its interview panels and in making selection decisions”. 

“Through the recruitment pipeline, we work to find the best person for the role, so removing biases as part of the pre-interview screening is key.”

That includes reconsidering the prerequisites for positions. Komatsu has recently redefined its criteria for positions to focus more on transferable skills and less on specific experiences, which opens up the candidate pool. Right now, 43 per cent of Komatsu’s senior leadership roles are held by women. 

Komatsu also has a MyCareer program as part of its recently refreshed talent processes. This program is fundamental to managing employee performance and careers and articulates Komatsu’s approach to structured career development processes.

“Everyone has the opportunity to consider their career opportunities and pathways at Komatsu, and we support our employees in achieving these aspirations,” Morrison says.

The business is actively assessing ways to drive greater pay equity and fostering an environment where everyday sexism is challenged through initiatives like the ‘Respect at Komatsu’ campaign.

The future

Morrison says Komatsu recognises that every business is looking for the best talent, so it’s critical to create a culture and environment that is exciting, inclusive and provides real opportunity for a diverse range of employees.

“We are competing for top talent. Many companies are trying to recruit women, particularly trade-qualified women. We have to walk our talk and demonstrate the huge range of experiences our industry offers, from innovative technology to foundational roles in building our society. We then need to show that we can offer those opportunities in an environment that is inclusive, supportive and open to change.” 

This article was originally published in the May edition of our magazine. To read the magazine, click here.

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