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The Women of EMR

8 March 2019

As part of International Women’s Day (IWD) on 8 March, which was started by the Suffragettes over 100 years ago, we are celebrating the Women of EMR.

With 170 facilities worldwide, employing over 4000 people in roles ranging from Site Managers, Fitters and Plant Machine Operators to HGV drivers, Buyers and IT professionals, there are equal opportunities for both men and women to develop within the business.

We spoke to some of the women from across EMR to get their views on what it is like being a woman in the metal recycling industry and their thoughts on International Women’s Day.

 

Karen Fox, Transport Manager

International Women’s Day for me means equality. The metal recycling industry has always been very male dominated, but EMR is working hard to bring more women into the business. I started with EMR in 1989, working in accounts, and progressed through to Transport Manager for the East Anglia region.  

No two days are the same. Working in transport is really varied, but come 5pm, when all customers are happy, all drivers have left and all vehicles are ready for the next day, it is a very satisfying feeling. Afterwards, I like to take the dog for a walk or relax with a good book and a glass of wine or cider.

It’s really exciting working for EMR, there are always new opportunities. After hitting 50, I passed my Certificate in Professional Competence in Road Haulage; something I am proud of. I never feel stuck where I am and I know that if I show I am worth investing in, EMR will do just that – you never need to feel like there are no opportunities for progression.

 

 

Louise Burns, Area Depot Co-ordinator

International Women’s Day is still relevant now, over a century after it began, as it’s important to recognise the role women have across all sectors; we can do the same jobs just as well as men, but it’s not always recognised.

Before joining EMR I was a HGV driver and I found being a woman in the metal recycling industry challenging to say the least! Sometimes you’d feel like you’re singled out as a woman in a man’s world, but it’s not like that at EMR. The only challenges I’ve faced are to do with the job, not because I am a woman. I am always fully supported.

My day typically begins by getting myself and my kids ready, which includes sorting out the medication for my youngest child, then handing them over to the child minder before arriving at work, where the first thing I usually do is make a coffee!

I didn’t actually know what I wanted to be when I was younger. My Dad always said that it didn’t matter what qualification I gained, the main thing was that I apply myself 100% and eventually I’ll succeed. He was right; my proudest achievement is passing my HGV Class 2.

Each day comes with its own set of challenges and I enjoy seeing positive results from hard work. Being outgoing, organised and staying calm under pressure helped me get to where I am today, but I am looking forward to the future and developing myself further with EMR.

 

Angela Jones, Head of HR, UK

When I was young, I wrote to Jim’ll Fix It to ask if he could fix it for me to work in a shop, operating a cash register – thank goodness he didn’t reply!

I fell into HR by chance when I was 18 and continued to work in various HR posts, joining EMR 13 years ago. HR tends to be a female-dominated profession, but by no specific plan I’ve ended up working in male-dominated environments.

I’ve never felt like I have been treated less favourably because of my gender. In fact, I’ve never considered it as a factor. Sometimes I can be at a meeting where I am the only female present, but I don’t find this daunting, more that I would prefer more equal representation. Saying that, it’s got to be appropriate representation. It would do women no favours if we were simply token gestures to meet gender criteria, rather than appointed on our own merits.

I am generally self-motivated and I guess this comes down to my parents; I’m extremely thankful for their values. My Dad set up his own business at the age of 21, which continued until he retired at the age of 65, and my Mum always encouraged me and my sister to do whatever we wanted to do; to work hard, to travel, to have fun. I have lovely memories of being bundled into a BSA motorbike and sidecar (refurbished by my parents after buying it from a farmer who was using it as a chicken coop) to spend the school summer holidays travelling round Europe.

It is so important that we continue to celebrate International Women’s Day. There was a lot of suffering in the past that women endured to be recognised equally. I was genuinely interested in all the information available and documentaries shown on TV in 2018 to celebrate 100 years of votes for women. The message that stuck with me was the fact women were campaigning to become equal to men; not more superior.

  

 

Louisa Galey, Transport Manager

Every day is different in transport, especially within this sector, but that is what I love about this job.

I joined the army when I left school, where I gained my LGV driving licences (Class 2 and 1). After leaving the army, I was a little lost until a Class 2 driving job became available within EMR.  I knew from the day of the interview that this was what I wanted to do, it finally ‘felt like home’.

I drove the vehicles for a few months and was then moved into the office as a transport coordinator. It was demanding, but my hard work paid off and a year and a half later I was promoted to Assistant Transport Manager. Then after passing the Managers CPC in 2017, I was promoted again to Transport Manager. If I could give my younger self one piece of advice, it would be to never give up and stay positive!

Working at EMR, I have never felt different to anyone else because of my gender. I do think it is important that we have International Women’s Day though. Women have had to fight for so many rights and equality over the years,  so it is a great opportunity to thank those who sacrificed so much for what we have today. 

 

Pamandeep Boparai & Jodie Somerfield, Transport Coordinators

P: We all need to remember how far women have come because without the women of the past, we wouldn’t have the progression we have now in society.

J: Yes, I totally agree. I think it is important to remember where we are now, with equal opportunities, the right to vote and having our own say.

P: Generally, [being a woman] has not had an impact. Everybody in transport gets on really well. We meet and talk to lots of different people - customers , drivers, staff – so we build relationships and friendships with those people. But I have had one or two customers who have found it difficult to talk to a woman in this role.

J: When I first started as a teenager back in 2011, the attitude of some people was negative at first, because I was a lot younger than them. As time went by, and I progressed, their attitudes changed. In the two jobs I have had whilst at EMR, I haven’t had to face any challenges.

P: Michelle Obama, she is somebody who inspires me. Everything she stands for, I fully believe and support; trying to eradicate any form of discrimination against race, gender, etc. My Mum also inspires me for being strong, determined and overcoming obstacles in her life.

J: Yes, my Mum and Dad inspire me too. If I could offer my younger self some advice, it would be; don’t let people put you down or get to you. Be more confident.

P: I would say, stay focused on what you want. Your personal goals and aspirations are within reach if you just work hard for it. You will always have options – if something doesn’t work out, there is always another path.  

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