Personal & Professional Wisdom

International Women’s Day – #IWD2021 #ChooseToChallenge

Erica Haims

Why do women need a day, a month, or a professional organization?

Many organizations devoted to women in business were created for one main goal… equality. Women in the Localization industry are not immune from inequalities that are faced in any other industry. However, there isn’t another organization that I can think of with Women in Localization’s reach; 28 chapters throughout 21 countries. With each new chapter onboarded, we see how gender disparity differs from region to region and how we can support each other as one giant global community.

Back in 2008 when WL founders, Eva Klaudinyova, Silvia Avary-Silveira, and Anna N. Schlegel created WL they understood exactly why we have to have a space for Women in Localization. Why were there so few female leaders in an industry that has more women than men? Why does a gender pay gap exist? Let’s support each other!

This community of localization and globalization professionals reminds members that there is room for everyone to have a seat at the table. I have been the only woman in a room full of men and remember how hard I fought to be there. Women have seen their fellow women colleagues as competitors instead of as allies because we think there are limited opportunities available. As Women, we need to remind ourselves that we are paving the way for equality and fairness for everyone through our shared passion to serve the global customer.

During my term as Marketing Sponsor on the WL Board (2020), I was thrilled to be part of the Global Community launch. We now have a special home for our members, a safe space for mentorship, networking, and learning from one another. 2020 was a year of the unknown: layoffs, cancelled networking opportunities, and general uncertainty. We are lucky to belong to an organization that is able to support our members with a digital community and multiple online events hosted by incredible leaders located all over the world. The WL Board and Program Directors banded together with a massive course correction and accomplished so much in such a short amount of time.

International Women’s Day is a day to celebrate women everywhere, across cultures and borders. We celebrate our unique challenges in addition to our shared determination and spirit. Venture capitalist and Diversity and Inclusion pioneer, Ellen Pao, is quoted as saying, “If we do not share our stories and shine a light on inequities, things will not change.” We all have the ability to do great things by sharing our challenges and inspiring future generations. Change is possible.

Diversity and Inclusion aren’t just buzzwords, they are necessary and well deserved. In order to achieve this, we need everyone to set an example, support, mentor, and grow our wonderful community. Within WL, you have the ability to volunteer on a global or chapter level, mentor a fellow member, and even encourage your company to sponsor WL or become a strategic partner. As a global community, we can learn from and support members who face challenges foreign from our own. I encourage you all to attend chapter events outside your own chapter. You will learn that women face many challenges that are unique to their region and culture.

The global pandemic has been especially challenging for women. So many women with children have been forced to leave their jobs in order to homeschool, causing a decline in women in the workforce. Most of us in this profession are used to working remotely, however this added burden has really set women back. Eventually, this pandemic will end, but what will be the permanent damage and how will we get back on track? Let’s keep reminding ourselves to continue to fight for our seat at the table and save a seat for those who will return.

As part of the International Women’s Day Choose to Challenge campaign (#IWD2021 #ChooseToChallenge) and in support of WL’s mission to support women and the localization industry, I invite you all to challenge gender, racial, and cultural biases in localization, globalization, and beyond.