Sustainability superstar: Becky Toal’s path to inspiring change
We talk to Becky Toal, CEO at Crowberry Consulting Ltd, about being recognised as an inspirational businesswoman in STEM and construction, the challenges she’s faced along the way and much more.
Conceived by Roni Savage, CEO and Founder of Jomas Associates (Engineering & Environmental), a construction services company, the Inspirational Business Women in STEM & Construction initiative was a response to the findings of The Alison Rose Review. This UK Government-commissioned review highlighted the underrepresentation of women entrepreneurs in the UK’s most productive sectors and the potential for female entrepreneurship to contribute an additional £250bn to the economy. The review also stressed the need to encourage young women to study STEM subjects as a means to boost female start-up rates in these sectors, particularly given that women hold only 29.4% of STEM roles.
The initiative aimed to identify exceptional women entrepreneurs in STEM and Construction, serving as influential role models for future generations. These remarkable individuals challenge the norms in industries traditionally dominated by men.
What sector of the STEM workforce do you work for and how did you get there?
I am currently working in environmental management and sustainability (so the Science part of STEM). I hold three environmental science degrees, have achieved Chartered Environmentalist Status and am a Full Member of the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment. I established Crowberry Consulting Ltd. back in 2006 after having worked in Environmental Management for the Co-operative Group for over 5 years. When I graduated after my MBA in Environmental Management I worked for Natural England as their first Environmental Manager, then moved to the Co-operative Group. I was inspired to set up my own business as the UK signed the Kyoto Protocol in 2005 which was the first legally binding set of climate targets.
How does it feel to be recognised as an Inspirational Business Woman in STEM and Construction?
It is a wonderful recognition as my entire professional career has been working in environmental, energy and sustainability management since graduation. Over the last 20 years, ESG and sustainability have risen up the Director-level agenda, with an acknowledgement that man-made climate change is now a real threat to our existence. We all need to work together to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. Winning this award and being able to coach/mentor the next generation is a real honour.
What’s the best advice you have for young people looking to go into this field of study?
Make sure you align your career with a professional institute, they can provide ongoing CPD in the form of networking, webinars, case studies and so on. The Society for the Environment provides a learning journey to achieve Chartered Status as well. If you can find a mentor to help guide you that is invaluable. My final point would be to never give up and to keep striving for your goals no matter what the cost as it’s worth it.
STEM and construction is, arguably, a male-dominated space. What challenges have you faced as a woman and how have you overcome them?
Unfortunately, I face misogyny almost every day, and as an LGBT business owner have also faced discrimination. However, you have to believe in yourself and those opportunities you don’t win, just re-direct you to something better. As supply chain diversity is now recognised as a social value we can add a lot of credibility to projects so we stay focussed and keep going. We are a certified women-owned business with WE Connect International and a certified LGBT business with Out Britain. Both organisations work proactively to promote diverse suppliers and through these certifications, we have won global clients who respect our services, intelligence and solutions-focused approach.
The Alison Rose Review of Female Entrepreneurship effectively states women would prove beneficial to the space but only occupy just under a third (29.4%) of the roles in the STEM workforce. Do you see us heading in the right way towards equality in the sector?
Within Environmental Management and Sustainability, there is the IEMA campaign Diversity in Sustainability which we are founding members of. Yes, we need to change to narrative to be more open and inclusive. Working in Environmental Management and Sustainability is massively rewarding, and many women see this sector as having many career paths and opportunities. IEMA has launched their first LGBTQ network for example to provide role models for the future and networking in the UK. Things are changing slowly! I believe we are on the right pathway we need more allies as well as role models to show women what a great career this is and that the sector is very welcoming to them.
What are your plans for the future?
We opened our Dublin, Ireland office in February this year as we are expanding our services into the EU. We won our first USA-based client earlier this year too. So, internationalisation and expansion are very much our focus for the next 3 to 5 years. We also want to recruit and grow our team.
What makes a great business leader?
Being a diverse business owner you always think outside the box and come up with creative solutions for our clients. We care a great deal about our staff and are committed to learning and development, having won many awards for our Apprenticeship and Internship programmes. We provide opportunities for recent graduates and postgraduates to work in the world of sustainability consultancy and encourage LGBTQIA and under-represented groups including women to apply for our roles. As the owner and founder, I believe if you can see it you can be it, therefore winning this award will help others to have that faith too!