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Celebrating women in waste for International Women’s Day

To celebrate International Women’s Day, we decided to shine a light on some of the leading ladies at Paper Round.

We are champions of women in the workplace here, with 50% of our board, company directors and senior management team being female. We talked to some of them about their career choices, advice, and views on how their gender has affected their careers. 

Celebrating women in waste for International Women’s Day

Alison Roe, Company Director

First, we talked to Alison who is joint owner of Paper Round. She was attracted to our industry because she is passionate about the environment and sensed the opportunity to make some real change.  

Working at Paper Round

“I love the new challenges that every day brings, I love the people I work with, and that we all have the same goals for the environment. I love that everyone’s good ideas, from staff and clients, are considered, and these have really improved our service. It’s a great collaborative approach.”

What advice do you have for junior women in the industry?

“There is so much opportunity. Work hard and you have every chance of succeeding.”

Gender equality & the waste management industry

“I think it is better than some industries, but there have been… moments. I remember when I was in my early 30’s and had been working here for 6 years, when a man at the paper mill explained contamination by comparing it to the washing I do at home!”

What progress still needs to be made?

“I think that Paper Round is leading the way with equality in this industry, hopefully it will prompt others to follow.”

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Philippa Roberts, Board member

Philippa started working at Paper Round in 2001 as a Business Development Manager during her Environment and Development Masters at the London School of Economics. She stayed with the company for nearly 2 years before moving on but staying in the sector.  In 2010, she became a non-executive board member, and continues to provide expert advice and support for the company.  

Working at Paper Round

"I enjoy being part of a growing company and supporting the continued development of an innovative company who wants to do well."    

What advice do you have for junior women in the industry?

“Experience as much as possible, get out and meet people. There is nothing better than practical experience to help you understand the waste industry.”

Gender equality & the waste management industry

“I would say it is still a male dominated industry, but it is slowly changing. There were very few women when I first started out, many of my peers were in the minority, particularly at Local Authorities. There is now less of a focus on engineering and more on sustainability and communications which I believe is attracting more females to these roles.”

What progress still needs to be made?

“I would like to see more women being profiled on panels and at events. It is still very common to see a full panel of men, whilst they are all very interesting, there are also many interesting women in this industry who should also have a voice.”

“We also need to consider the value we put on different roles. Operational roles that tend to be male-dominated are often viewed as being more valuable than the customer-focussed roles that are often female led”.

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Harriet Hird, Marketing and Engagement manager

Harriet has been working at Paper Round for 8 years. She wanted to do something that had a positive impact and fell into recycling.

Working at Paper Round

“I love the attitude of the people who work here, the fact that we’re always striving for better, and my work has always challenged and inspired me.”

What advice do you have for junior women in the industry?

“You can be yourself and succeed, you don’t need to fulfill an archetype of the professional power woman. Work hard, give honest feedback, and be brave when it comes to expressing your opinion.”

Gender equality & the waste management industry

“It can be quite male-dominated. Often, waste sector events are very white, male, and middle-aged. That said, I don’t think my gender has ever affected my progress.

The main barriers affecting my progress have been my own self-confidence and ability to ask for things for me. I’m still working on those!”

Have you experienced sexism in your career?

“Yes, but it isn’t the norm. It’s shocking when it happens. Once, I was called a “stupid little girl” by someone who was angry with how I had handled a situation.”

What progress still needs to be made?

“More organisations need to assess how to make their workplace more appealing to women. For example, a culture where flexible working isn’t viewed as “not pulling your weight”, but rather a clever way of getting the most out of your workforce by working around childcare commitments for both parents. Paper Round is very forward-thinking when it comes to workplace equality and this is evidenced by the equal gender makeup of our senior leadership.”

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Nikki Sandham, Finance Director & Board member

Nikki is a brilliant new addition to the Paper Round team, she leads our finance team and sits on the Board.

Working at Paper Round

“I’ve worked in a few businesses and Paper Round is one of the most professional and ethical that I have come across. It treats its employees really well, encourages a healthy work-life balance, and everyone cares about what Paper Round stands for, which creates a happy office environment.” 

What advice do you have for junior women in the industry?

“I really believe that if you work hard you can achieve anything you set out to.

Have a vision of where you see yourself and work with your manager to break that down into short-term goals. Opportunities invariably arise, especially in growing businesses like Paper Round. Make sure you grab them!”

Gender equality & the waste management industry

“I have experienced sexism in my career, but my gender hasn’t affected my progress (as far as I’m aware).”

Other barriers

“Being a finance director is tough, as the route is quite narrow. In some cases, you are just waiting for your manager to move on, so you can take the next step up the ladder. I’ve had to leave good companies for my own career progression and sometimes that can be tough on both the employee and the employer!”

What progress still needs to be made?

“We need to set a shining example of female management and let that diminish old school views.

Women need to keep showing they have a voice and make sure that voice is heard. Good management would never ignore great ideas whether they come from a woman or a man, would they..?”

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Stephanie Prowse, Transport manager

Steph has been with us for over 5 years, she started by helping her mum who worked for a waste management company and has stayed in the industry ever since.

Working at Paper Round

“Paper Round has taught me a lot and given me the opportunity to progress quickly.”

What advice do you have for junior women in the industry?

“They need to work really hard and be willing to go the extra mile. It pays in the long run!”

Gender equality & the waste management industry

“My gender hasn’t held me back, and I’ve never experienced any sexism in my career. At least not yet!”

Other barriers

“Exams! I had to pass a CPC National. It took a long 3-months of home study before taking the exams, but I passed first time!”

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Lyndsay Edwards, Compliance & HR Director

Lyndsay has been working for Paper Round for 16 years. She fell into the industry but finds it genuinely interesting and likes that she is doing something positive for the environment.

Working at Paper Round

“It’s challenging on many levels, I like my colleagues and having flexible employers. It’s been an interesting journey, both personally and professionally, to see how Paper Round had grown and changed over the years. I like to think that I’ve grown too.”

What advice do you have for junior women in the industry?

“The industry is changing all the time – keep reading and learning about it. It will be interesting to see what it looks like in 10 years’ time.”

Gender equality & the waste management industry

“I am lucky enough to have spent much of my career working for Paper Round, where I don’t think gender equality has ever been an issue!”

What progress still needs to be made?

“I hope that, in line with more general trends in society, women will have the same opportunities as men and that both women and men will be able to work flexibly.” 

Lily Marriage

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