The localization industry may be dominated by women, but there’s still work to do when it comes to gender equality. This and many other insights came out of another inspiring episode of LocLife™ this week.
Equality Talks: Women on Leadership brought together five influential women in localization, along with hundreds of attendees eager to take part in the conversation. Acclaro’s brand champion Javi Diaz kicked off the fun, with a panel featuring:
- Carrie Fischer, manager of globalization services at Subway
- Giulia Greco, localization programs lead at Shopify
- Nataly Kelly, vp of localization at HubSpot
- Cecilia Maldonado, partner, director of strategic accounts at Latamways
- Lupe Gervás Pabón, senior director, globalization at Disney+
From personal experiences to actionable advice, each of these successful leaders shared a wealth of knowledge on the influence gender can have on career paths. The chat forum and Q&A were buzzing with activity throughout the 90-minute event, with guests eager to take part in the discussion.
Missed the event? Need a refresher? View the LocLife™ 6 on-demand session here!
None of the panelists felt that gender played a large role in their path to leadership, but all of the women saw evidence of inequality at some point on their journeys.
Giulia Greco, who moved from Italy to Canada, shared, “I don’t think my gender has had any weight, unless we look at it from a much wider angle. It pains me to say this, but I am 100% convinced that I wouldn’t have been as successful as I have been had I remained back in Italy. Italy still has a lot of issues related to gender parity that are systemic, rooted and very hard to eradicate.”
Although she was told she seemed a lot like Melanie Griffith in the movie “Working Girl,” Carrie Fischer doesn’t believe gender played a role when the CEO hired her for her first job. “He saw I wanted that job, how hard I worked and my willingness to train.”
Cecilia Maldonado, who is currently the president of Women in Localization (WIL), saw gender playing a role at a young age. She explained, “Argentina is a very chauvinistic culture where stereotypes have an impact on the role of women. It’s a lot harder to pursue dreams and have big goals if you’re home taking care of the kids. Women have part of the responsibility there and we have to work to change it.” Maldonado’s mother consistently insisted she and her two sisters become financially independent, so that they could choose what to do with their lives.
Nataly Kelly shared similar sentiments stating, “I’ve become increasingly aware of my responsibility to do something to help other women who don’t get the same opportunities.”
In response to whether gender inequality is an issue in the localization industry, Greco shared a past experience where two male vendors were completely dismissive of her during a meeting she was holding with her male boss. “I was furious, but so shocked that I didn’t react in the moment. If it were to happen again now, I would absolutely stop the meeting and address it right there. I’ve gotten the courage to actually call out this type of behavior, because I’m tired of it. And I think it’s important to do it … for junior team members who don’t feel safe enough or strong enough. It is my responsibility now that I am a leader to advocate for others.”
When asked if there are any assumptions when it comes to female leaders, Fischer noted that: “Women have different challenges when it comes to leading. You have to be able to voice your opinion, and take criticism without breaking down or thinking you’re a failure.”
As a Spaniard now living and working in the U.S., Lupe Gervás Pabón agreed, adding, “It’s OK to not have the words. Be humble with others and other cultures. It makes you a better leader.”
Kelly added, “I flex my style to how a culture prefers to operate. But it’s also about individuals. We are not always the exact representation of the stereotype of our culture. Knowing the individuals is most important. And knowing the culture that informs their beliefs is also very important.”
During the event, a live poll found that the two most important qualities in a leader are communication and empathy, which Greco related to. “Being a mother has helped me develop more empathy. I want to be the best version of myself I can be for my kids first and foremost. And the rest of the world benefits from that by default. It’s also helped me be more comfortable with the difficult decisions you have to make as a leader.”
All of the panelists agree that while there are plenty of women in the localization industry, there’s not a good representation of women of color.
“White women take up a lot more space in this industry, and I want to call myself out. We all have work to do,” Kelly mentioned.
The event closed with a final word of empowerment in response to future leader Mar Arbat’s question about how to ensure women have equal access to leadership.
Fischer said, “Show everyone that you have just as much right to lead as anyone else. Don’t let anyone else’s opinion of you keep you from becoming everything that you want to be. Find your people. Find the ones who support you. Encourage you. Mentor you. If you don’t have people, I’ll be your people. And I bet every one of the ladies on this panel will be your people. Connections are your strongest ally.”
Stay tuned for our next LocLife™ event exploring whether age has an impact on career growth in the industry! In the meantime, join us over at LocLife™ Community to engage with other LocLifers about this week’s topic, and weigh in on what topics you’d like to hear about at future events.