Even though the equipment rental and construction sector is still male-dominated, the landscape is changing, says compressor and generator supplier Rand-Air GM Kim Coetzee.
“About 48% of this sector currently comprises female employees in South Africa – many of them very small women-led construction companies – something that is very encouraging in this industry. Women are, therefore, now taking on more technical roles – from safety, health, environment and quality to engineering and quantity surveying.”
She mentions that this change is no longer regarded as unusual, particularly because women now have the skills that the sector requires.
Coetzee points out that, to encourage more women to get involved in the equipment rental and rental sector, many companies – including Rand-Air and its parent company Atlas Copco – have offered initiatives that uplift and encourage gender diversity.
“Our international parent company Atlas Copco has always been a strong advocate locally and globally of diversity in the workplace and Rand-Air also stands out locally as a trailblazer in this regard. Even back in the 1980s and 1990s – at a time when women in the rental industry were regarded as something of an anomaly – Rand-Air broke this mould and was known for its [mainly female]sales team.”
Coetzee adds that women in leadership positions should be open to mentoring other women, and that such mentoring does not necessarily have to take place within the organisations employing those in leadership positions.
This can also be achieved by approaching universities to promote opportunities in the academic disciplines of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Further, Rand-Air has provided internship roles for young women graduates over the past few years.
“This gives young women the chance to understand how an organisation in the rental sector works, and the various professional roles people occupy to enable them to have a good start to their careers. This is an initiative that companies in the private sector can adopt to ensure that more women are employed in these industries.”
Coetzee notes that women determine how high they want to set the bar, and the important factor is to be able to navigate a tough environment by ‘pivoting’, and by being agile and flexible.
Although the company has built up a strong reputation in a variety of vertical industry sectors – from paper and pulp to petrochemicals, power generation and agriculture – it still hires generators, compressors and lighting sets to the construction sector.
“We are well placed to continue offering customer service excellence with our technically superior range of compressors, generators, lighting sets and more,” she says.
“We have matched the latest technology equipment from Atlas Copco, with the pride we take in our investment in and development of our people.”
For Rand-Air, it is always about the promotion of people who show merit. “We want to see people succeed; and, as a woman leading this company, I hope to inspire other women within the company and industry to strive for success, grow and develop and to succeed in holding a senior role. I believe in women championing other women.”