EMR founded by ‘one woman’s determination’


UK-based company European Metal Recycling (EMR) has described how “one woman’s determination” and dream of a better life founded the company in wartime Britain.

Now an international leader in the recycling industry with over 3,000 staff and facilities around the world, EMR was established by Winifred Sheppard in the north west of England in the 1950s.

Sheppard, who left wartime London after a bomb destroyed the factory where she worked, founded the company as Sheppard Group with her husband and children.

In recognition of International Women’s Day, which is marked every year on the 8 March, Samantha Grierson Schwarz, EMR’S director of change and chair of EMR’s Inclusion Steering Group, said, “When you think of metal recycling, you may have in mind an industry that is male-dominated. You are not wrong”.

“Throughout my career, working in construction and now the metal recycling industry, I have found myself surrounded by male colleagues, largely due to the low numbers of women in these industries. I can honestly say that I have never found my gender as a factor detrimental to my success. However, this is not a sentiment shared by women globally.”

Drawing attention to a lack of part-time working, remote working and maternity/paternity benefits, Samantha highlighted how a inflexible working environments were acting as a barrier and preventing more women from entering the industry.

According to the director, EMR’s Learning and Development Team aims to build a more equal and inclusive future by addressing skill-gap shortages and developing career paths for men and women alike.

“Many businesses, like EMR, now use their recruitment process to highlight their commitment to equality in the workplace and at EMR we aim to ensure that recruitment decisions are made solely on experience and talent,” said Samantha.

“However, creating an inclusive environment where everyone wants to continue working is about more than just policies and hiring practices, it’s an ongoing environment where everyone brings their whole self to work each day and feels valued, heard and able to make an impact while progressing their careers. We are working hard to create an environment where women can achieve their potential.”

She added, “It was one woman’s determination that created the EMR we know today. EMR’s heritage and family values certainly shape the business, and I am proud to say I work for a company that aims to treat everyone equally and that puts their people first.”

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