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Building a gender-inclusive workplace with Mark Smith

Meet Liquids and Technical Services Regional Manager Mark Smith who’s helping build a diverse and inclusive workplace at Cleanaway

Our People

March 5, 2020


“What’s equally important too is mentoring and developing women that have an aptitude or passion for a career path in waste management.”


“What’s equally important too is mentoring and developing women that have an aptitude or passion for a career path in waste management.”

Liquids and Technical Services Regional Manager Mark Smith was recently recognised by Cleanaway for the incredible work he’s been doing to encourage a gender-inclusive workplace. We caught up with Mark to get his thoughts on what diversity means to him and how his approach to talent management is making a sustainable future possible at Cleanaway.

Why diversity is important

To Mark, creating a balanced talent pool simply makes good business sense. “Gender diversity is critical to our productivity and profitability. It plays a vital role in ensuring that our operational strategy reflects the needs of our regional and metropolitan markets.”

“The recent appointments of our new female branch managers reflect a Cleanaway-wide commitment to supporting an energetic and contemporary team. Our female leaders have demonstrated a willingness to drive change and excellence in delivering safety, customer and growth outcomes. I’m excited to see the next few phases of recruitment where we see our female employees continuing to grow into senior leadership roles in our business.” said Mark on his recent efforts giving women opportunities in leadership roles within his team.

Mark (right) pictured with and Liquids and Technical Services General Manager Karl Baltpurvins at the 2019 Cleanaway Star Awards.

How organisations can build inclusive teams

Mark believes that diversity should be built into the very DNA of a business. At Cleanaway, our “Cleanaway Way” provides a uniting set of values built around teamwork, performance, safety and integrity which guides behaviours at all levels including recruitment.

“We come to work each day looking to deliver on our Cleanaway Way and ensure our decisions are aligned to our corporate values. If all our team members understand the value they provide every day, then diversity should be a natural output of that.” said Mark.

Challenges commonly faced in building a balanced workplace

Finding the right talent at the right time is the number one challenge Mark faces in recruiting a balanced team. “Our business is fast-paced, particularly in operations, and there’s little latitude when replacing or filling roles,” he said. “As a result, it’s critical to understand the mandate of the role, how and where to advertise it to ensure a balanced set of applicants, and then measuring those candidates against the three C’s – compatibility, capability and commitment.”

With short lead-times, the easiest selection often is a candidate in a similar role or with a similar work experience to a comparable role in the business. This bias doesn’t always encourage thinking outside the box when considering diversity, but Mark believes this can be overcome with the support from the human resources department and from the leadership of a business. “Ultimately, for inclusivity to thrive, hiring managers must remain objective, open-minded and be brave in challenging the status-quo.” said Mark.

Mark pictured with Branch Manager Nicole Watkins

How to support women in the waste management industry
Mark strongly believes in encouraging participation and the role of mentoring at “all levels, in all roles, at all times.”

“Mentoring and developing women that have an aptitude or passion for a career path in waste management is really important. Equally as transformative is ensuring that women are part of our everyday standard operating procedures narrative and recognising that their contribution is vital to improve business and performance.”

Attracting more talent to the waste management industry
Mark thinks more women will participate in the industry once the idea that “waste management is a man’s job” is overcome. In recent years, Cleanaway has seen more women participate in operational roles such as our female drivers and at management levels alike.

“Cleanaway has taken great leaps toward being the most sophisticated and advanced waste management business in the country,” said Mark. “This investment means that all employees have the opportunity to work safe and clean whilst contributing to improvements for waste management in the community.”

Contact us today to learn more about how we make an inclusive and sustainable future possible for communities and businesses across Australia.