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Robyn London: "What drives me to do what I do, is seeing the gratitude in my staff."

What drives me to do what I do, is seeing the gratitude in my staff because it’s a constant reminder to me of where I come from.

Being a young female entrepreneur in a very diverse cutthroat industry, is a journey that almost had me throwing in the towel a couple of times already. What got me through this, is my values especially respect, kindness and “my willie hoorie” perseverance.

These values are what I was raised on, when I saw my mother sacrificing by not being around, working triple shifts just to put food on the table, having no one to help me with my homework, knowing I can’t ask my mother for a R2 for casual day because either she never came home from her quadripple shift or she didn’t have, but instead you lie to your teacher saying that you lost your R2, just to not feel embarrassed in front of your peers, all because she was a cleaner. But what that cleaner done was put me through school regardless of her hardships, she also taught me that no matter how the odds can be against you, hard work will pay off and never goes in vain. This contributed to where my passion stems from, remaining optimistic and having an increased hunger for learning and gaining knowledge to better myself and my team. What drives me to do what I do, is seeing the gratitude in my staff because it’s a constant reminder to me of where I come from. I wanted to change this narrative where the breadwinners in our industry do not get the respect, recognition and the dignity they so much deserve and in doing so, I try my best each and every day to do more, not just for me but for my teams so they too can give their kids that platform I was given.

What does the cleaning industry need?

In conclusion, this industry that has such great and amazing people, companies in it, can offer so much and can really change the way the world see how we do what we do. My goal in life as an business owner for a cleaning company has always been to change the narrative, to show companies the value and importance of what we do on a daily and the great impact we have in healthcare. In South Africa, we need all companies to see this and not exploit this to their bottom line and prey on cleaners vulnerability but instead set the precedent where we can increase the rates of cleaners, make working conditions better for them, empower them through training and education and give them something they can take pride in as adults and as the working class who deserves just as much as the next industry worker.

What advice can you give to other women?

I would say you get further together. Create a nice network of people around you and embrace your ambassadors. In addition, be an ambassador for the other, support each other. Give yourself the peace and space to reflect. Step away from the day-to-day concerns to get answers to questions like: Are you still on track? And do the things you do make you happy?

Did you enjoy Robyn’s story? Then you might enjoy more. Download our free e-book with 25 stories from women in the cleaning industry here

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