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In celebration of the International Women’s Day theme, #BreakTheBias, we caught up with Becky Byrne, Managing Director at Countrystyle Recycling, as well as some of her senior female colleagues in the company to discuss the growing opportunities for women in the waste and recycling industry. In a series of short video interviews, we get to see how these women at the forefront are transforming the business.
IWD provides us with a moment to reflect on the impressive progress women at all levels of the career ladder have made in recent decades.
“I have been fortunate that both Trevor Heathcote Chairman of Countrystyle, and now his son Martin Heathcote, CEO has promoted women based on their abilities. They don’t see gender stereotypes and don’t differentiate between male and female roles in the business, and I am pleased to say that at Countrystyle we have several women working in leadership roles.”
Becky Byrne, Managing Director of Countrystyle Recycling
The waste sector is fast-moving and constantly innovating, so having a diverse workforce, delivering a wealth of different experiences is vital for success. Incorporating people from all walks of life, regardless of gender, ethnicity or age, allows businesses to bring new and creative ideas to the table – avoiding ‘tunnel vision’ and stale work environments. This also ensures the workforce more accurately reflects the customer base. Many Women operate in areas such as hospitality, healthcare, and education. These sectors can make a real difference to the planet by taking a sustainable approach to waste, and therefore being able to see themselves in the waste industry actively encourages sustainable practices. sustainable practices.
Becky recently commented that when she joined Countrystyle Recycling 12 years ago, she would attend client meetings, networking events, conferences, and trade shows and would be one of the few women in the room, if not the only one.
“There was no getting away from the waste industry being very male-dominated, I’m pleased to say that it’s a different story now. I am proud to be part of a company that has evolved to support the next generation of females in the sector and have now embraced a female MD. In addition to other females in Senior Management roles across a range of different departments like logistics, transport, Materials Recycling Facility (MRF), and operations.”
Becky Byrne, Managing Director
As well as seeing more women in the waste industry, there is a greater influx than ever before of younger people entering the sector. They seem to be much more emotionally invested in the state of our environment and how waste can affect it. This could be attributed to them growing up in a much more environmentally aware world, learning about the consequences of climate change through social media and in educational programmes at school.
Furthermore, to attract more women we must promote the opportunities the industry can offer from a younger age. The advances in recycling, waste to energy and renewable sources in the last fifty years could encourage more women to take the next steps to change the state of our environment for the better.
International Women’s Day #BreakTheBias is a great opportunity to show how the waste sector is becoming more diverse; encouraging more women to join this dynamic and essential industry.
“As a woman in waste you have to be open to learn. The industry is an ever-evolving business, with new challenges occurring every day on both a local and global level. Women who are interested in the waste sector but are concerned that they might not ‘fit in’ to the industry as a female, I hope this insight above has spurred you on to fulfill your ambition and build a career in this great industry.”
Becky Byrne, Managing Director