Working in the male-dominated skip hire industry, SunSkips believes it’s important to break the bias and shine a light on the growing presence of women in the waste sector.
Waste management tends to attract more men than women, which is why our team is keen to highlight that there’s no reason why women should be hesitant to build a career in this thriving industry.
So let’s hear from some of the women of SunSkips, all of whom are more than happy to dispel any myths about gender bias in waste management.
Female representation isn’t just important to encourage other women to join the waste management workforce, it can also make customers feel more comfortable.
Anita Butters from SunSkips’ commercial sales team says women who haven’t booked a skip before might be a bit nervous when calling the office, but that they tend to relax once they hear a female voice on the other end of the call.
She said, “For women in particular, I think it’s nice to speak to another woman when you’re hiring a skip for the first time.
“That’s why I love that SunSkips has a strong female presence, both in the office and out driving the lorries.”
Indeed, it’s not just our administrative team that’s flying the female flag at SunSkips…
Women in waste management are most underrepresented in the more people-facing roles, but at SunSkips, you’d do well to miss our trendsetting driver Sophie Marshall.
Sophie had long dreamed of becoming a lorry driver and loves looking down on the rest of the traffic as she delivers skips all over Suffolk and Cambridgeshire.
“It’s just so big!” she said of her beloved DAF lorry. “A lot of male drivers have said they feel like they’re the ‘king of the road’. Well, I’m the queen of the road!”
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But while a lot of SunSkips’ customers praise Sophie’s polite attitude and driving skills, she does still encounter a bit of gender bias when she’s out and about.
She said, “One customer wanted to know why I was in a ‘man’s job’,” explained Sophie. “I told him it’s because women’s jobs are boring, but he still insisted on helping me lift the safety pads and unhook the chains on my lorry.
“The funny thing was, he couldn’t manage it! I just politely did it for him and was on my way. I’m perfectly capable of doing every part of my job and I absolutely love it!”
Sophie is keen to spread the message that there are always going to be people who’ll try to make you feel like you don’t belong, but they’re best ignored.
She added, “Don’t let anyone tell you you’re not capable. If you want to be a lorry driver, just do it!”
After receiving so much positive feedback about Sophie, SunSkips managing director Mat Stewart was keen to get more drivers like her on board.
He said, “We’re getting loads of compliments about Sophie from customers. She’s polite, helpful and always turns up with a smile on her face.
“Sophie is a perfect example of the kind of driver we want to hire at SunSkips.”
With Sophie setting such a great example, it wasn’t long before SunSkips attracted another female driver.
And while SunSkips is very happy to be getting more women behind the wheel, the team wanted to make an even bigger display of how valued the women of waste management are.
SunSkips isn’t just about promoting visibility in the workplace, the skip hire company also takes pride in highlighting wider issues that affect women.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in the UK, making up almost a third (30%) of all cancer cases in females. In October last year, everyone at SunSkips came into the office dressed in pink to show support for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
But it wasn’t just staff doing their bit for the campaign. Several skips were painted pink to raise awareness across East Anglia and encourage the community to give what they could.
Donations collected by SunSkips raised £775 for Cancer Research UK.
Mathew said, “It was really well received in the community. Loads of people stopped to comment on the pink skips.”
One of SunSkips’ newest team members, Karen Moss, was relieved to find such a supportive working environment when she started at SunSkips.
The commercial sales administrator said, “I’m new so everything is a bit of a challenge right now. But so far, I’m loving it!
“SunSkips and everyone here is so supportive and helpful. It’s refreshing to be working in an environment with happy, supportive, hardworking, positive people that do their jobs efficiently to ensure excellent customer service to our clients.”
Karen says she’s pleased to have found a company that shares her values and makes her feel like her contribution matters.
She said, “I’m very passionate about sustainability so it’s very pleasing to work for a company that feels the same and recycles as much of the clients’ waste as possible. And they really do value us and our input.”
But while she’s been made to feel comfortable at SunSkips’ Stowmarket skip hire office, Karen still feels a responsibility to continue breaking the bias (the theme of this year’s International Women’s Day).
She added, “To be a woman is to be constantly fighting imposter syndrome and anxiety in the workplace. But by continuing to step beyond your comfort zone, you’re demonstrating the potential of women every day.”
SunSkips is an equal opportunity employer and strives to create a positive working environment where everyone feels welcome and appreciated.