The first official International Women’s Day took place in 1911 and was supported by over one million people. The theme of International Women’s Day 2020 is #EachforEqual, highlighting the importance of taking action for gender equality in order to achieve an equal, enabled world.

In celebration of International Women’s Day 2020, which took place on March 8, we sat down with Elizabeth Montoya, Vice President of Investor Relations at Rubicon®, to discuss everything from how she navigates working in a traditionally male-dominated industry, to the obstacles she has overcome in her career, to what her hopes are for her daughter, and the future in which she will grow up.

You were employee number three at Rubicon. What drew you to the company in those early days?

Before joining Rubicon, I worked for mostly non-profit organizations in Washington, D.C. I loved working at organizations such as the U.S. Green Building Council, because these groups have changed the way businesses view sustainability.

In 2011, when I first met Rubicon’s founder and CEO, Nate Morris, it was rare for a for-profit company to lead with its mission. Rubicon’s mission, to end waste, was at the forefront of every conversation I had with Nate. He also shared with me that he wanted to build a company with core values and a culture that would help make this mission a reality. Nate’s passion and conviction won me over and I soon became the company’s first Director of Corporate and Social Responsibility.

Not long after I joined Rubicon, we discovered B Corporation certification. Leading the charge for Rubicon to become one of the first Certified B Corps is my proudest accomplishment in my career. And I’m even more proud that we have maintained our B Corp Status, recruited other companies to get certified, and since been named a Great Place to Work®.

You’ve been working in the waste and recycling industry for almost nine years. Traditionally a male-dominated industry, what do you say to other women who are thinking about moving into this field?

I’m only reminded of this when I attend industry events as Rubicon is quite diverse, and I’ve always been treated as an equal member of the team. Rubicon is proud to have changed the paradigm in both the waste and technology industries, and to be a thought-leader when it comes to culture, ESG values, and seeking out people with diverse backgrounds and expertise to join our team.

In my opinion, women should not let male-dominated industries intimidate them. It is a strength to bring a different perspective to the table and it can give you the opportunity to create closer relationships with other women in the field through affinity groups and mentorship opportunities.

Try not to get caught up on gender stereotypes. Instead, embrace who you are. For example, I love to build relationships and host events in my personal life as well as at Rubicon. In my early days at Rubicon, I worried that I led with these skills because I’m a woman and that maybe it would hold me back. But after taking the Gallup CliftonStrengths test (which I highly recommend), I became proud of my unique strengths and I strategized how to use these talents to my advantage. It turns out that these particular skills helped propel me into my current role as Rubicon’s Vice President of Investor Relations. Each team needs a variety of strengths to be successful, so be loud and proud about your unique skill set.

What obstacles have you had to overcome over the course of your career?

At different times in my career, I have lacked confidence. For many women, this lack of confidence starts before even interviewing for a job. A widely-quoted study found that men will apply for a job when they meet 60 percent of the qualifications, but women will only apply if they meet 100 percent of the criteria.

I feel extremely fortunate to have spent the majority of my career at Rubicon because Nate, Michael Heller our Chief Administrative and People Officer, Michael Allegretti our Chief Strategy Officer, and others have believed in me and provided me with any support I needed to be successful. They instilled trust in me when I wasn’t sure if I was ready for such responsibility. My story is not unique at Rubicon. In our culture, if you work hard, there are endless opportunities—no matter your gender, race, or orientation. Over the years, I have found that when I focus on my strengths and just try to “Be Elizabeth,” a mantra I’ve adopted from my guru, Gretchen Rubin, I’m happier and more successful.

The theme of International Women’s Day 2020 is #EachforEqual. In what ways do you believe individuals of any gender can take action to make the workplace more equal?

I love this year’s theme, #EachforEqual and I agree that an equal world is an enabled world. International Women’s Day is a great reminder that we are all responsible for and capable of broadening perceptions, supporting women, and celebrating women’s achievements. At Rubicon, we aim to make the workplace more equal and uplifting by:

  • Recruiting and promoting top talent with diverse backgrounds
  • Sharing diverse perspectives through our weekly company All Hands meetings
  • Providing opportunities for engagement and mentorship through our various affinity groups (African-American, Women in Leadership, Latinx, LGBTQ+, and Veterans)
  • Supporting full-time employees through 100% paid healthcare premiums, including for spouses, domestic partners, and dependents
  • Providing generous paid maternity and paternity leave

My advice to others is that you don’t have to be on the HR team to get a gender equality initiative off the ground. Using a template such as B Corp or Great Place to Work® certification is a great way to get the conversation started because these organizations provide checklists and strategies for how to make progress toward your goals.

You recently became a mom for the first time. When you think about your baby girl and the future in which she will grow up, what are your hopes for her, and girls like her the world over?

I love being a mom and I’m thankful to work at a company that supports working parents. I can’t wait to tell my daughter about Rubicon and to show her how to recycle!

Working at a company like Rubicon gives me great comfort when I think about my daughter’s future. When she is ready to start her career, my hope is that all companies are Rubicons. I hope that because of the example Rubicon and other B Corps are setting today, it will be the norm for companies of the future to solve global challenges through the power of business, be great places for women and people of all backgrounds to work, offer great benefits that make it possible to have a fulfilling career and take care of one’s family, and be filled with dynamic female leaders.

Stacie Moore is Vice President of Human Resources at Rubicon. To stay ahead of Rubicon’s announcements of new partnerships and collaborations around the world, be sure to follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter, or contact us today.