TODAY is International Women’s Day – a time to celebrate women from all walks of life, to challenge discrimination and to strive for equity in the workplace. 

Here we feature one special woman who works for Teignbridge Council, Dawn Kiff, in the words of Louise Raymond, the council’s marketing and communications manager:

Teignbridge Council is fortunate to have talented and inspiring women at all levels of the organisation – at senior leadership level, management level and across all service areas from waste and recycling to HR, planning and leisure.  

And while there is still some way to go to achieve a level playing field for women in careers, the council has gone some way to recognise and address the additional challenges women face in the workplace, from juggling work and childcare to dealing with some of the hormone issues that affect women such as menstrual and menopause symptoms. 

Flexible working means women can achieve a better work/life balance; and the council has introduced initiatives such as menopause cafes and wellbeing support tools, to encourage greater equity in the workplace.  

And its recruiting women into traditionally male-dominated roles. 

Dawn Kiff joined Teignbridge in September 2021 as a Refuse & Recycling operative after meeting her now fiancé, who was working in Newton Abbot town centre as a street cleansing operative for the council. 

At the time she was looking for work and he told her the council were looking for employees on the Recycling & refuse side through the agencies.  

‘A week later I saw another young woman working on the kerbside lorries loading boxes into the lorry and I was inspired,’ said Dawn.  

‘After some consideration of whether I could do the job at the age of 56, I decided to sign up with an agency. 

‘I started working initially on the RV lorries collecting black bin waste and compost waste. 

‘After the first week, even though it was physically demanding, I realised I had the stamina and fitness level for the role, and I knew that this job was for me. 

‘I loved working outdoors, seeing the wonderful landscapes and wildlife, meeting the public and their lovely dogs. I also enjoyed working as part of a small team.’ 

Dawn continued working through the agency, experiencing different roles and last February successfully applied for a permanent full time position. 

‘I now have my own round, which I have been working on for a year, working as part of a crew of three, collecting recycling waste on the kerbside lorries in Dawlish, Exminster, Liverton & Bovey. 

‘Currently there is a small group of women working alongside me either on the recycling and refuse side as driver/loaders, loaders or on the cleansing side, on the sweepers and cleansing waste collection teams. 

‘We not only work together but we have bonded outside of work too. 

‘Recently we arranged a night out together so we could catch up on life outside of work. 

‘We ended the night by dancing the night away in Bar 7, a club in Newton Abbot town centre and had a fantastic time! 

‘My job role is hard, very physical, working in all extremes of weather but what other job can offer you a free gym workout in fresh air and have an office with a view? 

‘A job that you feel you are giving a service to the community and opportunities to meet lovely people! 

‘If I hadn’t been introduced to the world of working in the recycling and waste industry by my fiancé, I would not have even considered this role as it has been and still is assumed to be stereotypically a man’s occupation. I really hope that any women out there who may read my story are inspired to break any barriers they may feel if they would like to apply for any job that may seem stereotypically biased to men.’


We think you'd agree that Dawn is an inspirational person, now tell us who inspires you on International Women's day - email [email protected]