Biffa's Women in Waste Conference - Biffa
Isha Jain, Technology Director (right) at Biffa's Women In Waste conference in Leicester

Biffa's Women In Waste conference celebrates diversity

10 May 2024
3 mins
Biffa is committed to attracting, engaging and supporting female talent in what continues to be a traditionally male-dominated sector

Men and women from across Biffa attended the company’s second in-person Women in Waste conference to hear how diversity is championed across the business and wider industry. 

Colleagues from Biffa’s 10,000-strong UK-wide workforce gathered at the Leicester Marriott in an event designed to show, not tell, the company’s commitment to attracting, engaging and supporting female talent in what continues to be a traditionally male-dominated sector. 

Since it was formed in 2020, Biffa’s Women in Waste group, whose purpose is to create an environment where women can thrive, has grown to 360 members and delivers a year-round programme of initiatives. 

Highlights include the launch of a range of feminine fit PPE, the improvement of female facilities and access to free sanitary products at Biffa sites, and the delivery of mentoring and development programmes. 

Visit Careers to find out more about rewarding roles at Biffa.

The packed agenda included:

Biffa General Counsel & Company Secretary, Sarah Parsons, who provided updates on the progress made through the Women in Waste group over the last 12 months, including partnering with the EveryWoman platform to provide access to a wide range of resources and broader online community of women and male allies, and progress against Biffa’s aspiration that 50% of appointments into manager and leader roles are women.    

Biffa Chief People Officer, Jane Pateman, who reflected on the transformation of Biffa over the last 13 years, highlighting the positive changes and significant progress the company has made. 

Biffa Chief Executive Officer, Michael Topham, who provided insights into his role as an ally and ambassador for DE&I, and the evolution of his responsibilities as CEO over the years. He shared how his perspective had evolved and the broader impact he's hoping to have on the industry, especially as Chair of the Environmental Services Association.  

Hearing from two senior leaders who’ve recently joined Biffa, including Technology Director Isha Jain and Municipal HR Director Rachel Ho who gave a glimpse into their first impressions as industry newcomers, and the welcoming and inclusive environment the company cultivates.   

Stagecoach CEO Claire Miles, a Non-Executive Director of Biffa, on the coach and bus company’s gender diversity journey, and her own career path.  

And special guest Paralympian and TED Talk speaker Wendy Smith who left the audience feeling inspired and empowered to overcome any obstacle following her talk on the extraordinary power of “I can”. 

"To ensure real change, we need women at the table"

Urging more women to consider a career in waste, Isha Jain said afterwards: “It’s wonderful to be part of a company that puts its money where its mouth is when it comes to diversity.  

“The UK waste industry is investing £10 billion and creating 40,000 jobs over the next decade in projects to improve recycling and bring down carbon emissions.

"But to ensure real change, we need women at the table. Research shows that women are playing a key role in championing recycling and eco-awareness, and so their insight is invaluable to an industry which is trying to change society’s attitude to waste.” 

PHOTO CAPTION: Biffa Technology Director Isha Jain (right) speaking at the Women In Waste conference