#EmbraceEquity: International Women's Day

This International Women’s Day and every day, we are proud to celebrate our employees who champion change and work together to #EmbraceEquity.

We know that it is not enough to assume that if people are treated the same, they are equal. It’s more complex than that. So, it’s great to see that this year’s International Women’s Day theme of #EmbraceEquity continues to shine a light on this important topic. Achieving equity as a business means that we need to listen, to understand and to challenge the status quo, finding ways to tackle those barriers and truly reach equality. We encourage our people to bring their whole self to work, feel at ease and be comfortable to be themselves. We achieve this through respect, understanding and listening carefully to our people.

We are committed to being an active part in building this industry, nurturing global talent and providing them with the space they need to succeed. We strive to support them to build their careers so that they can go on to make significant contributions to the localisation industry.

See what some of our VSI Group employees have to say.


A message from our CEO


What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

I grew up in Japan where I felt it was appropriate for women to play supporting roles. Over time, it became clear that I had been pushing myself into that mould. IWD is a day to reflect on how much my views have changed and how much further we still need to go to overcome gender stereotypes.

When you get mistreated before discovering your worth, it’s hard to get out of the situation because that’s all you’ve known. Unfortunately, we all have lived within the walls of misjudgements, but acknowledging that gives us courage to jump over those boundaries and expand our horizons, not bending to the status quo. That’s why it’s important to observe IWD and learn about our worlds together. The more we speak up, the higher chance we have for a more equal world where we can explore our full potential with a true sense of belonging.

Airi Mori - Lead Editor, Los Angeles 

What do you think is the most significant barrier to female leadership?

The status-quo qualities of a leader, as well as the path to achieve leadership roles, has been infused with outdated, stereotypically masculine traits such as competitiveness, control and power. This has made integrating leadership into a woman’s core and establishing their credibility as leaders particularly challenging in a culture that’s deeply conflicted about whether, when and how they should exercise authority and demonstrate such traits.

We’ve made great progress to-date, but there is still a way to go. Our different backgrounds and experiences play a role in shaping all kinds of important decisions regarding our lives, career paths and sense of purpose.

Gender parity, inclusivity and having role models across gender, race and ethnicity are a major way to overcoming any barriers to self-realisation. Let's continue to believe that we can. Let's share the space equally. Let’s confidently take more seats at the decision-making table and speak up for success.

Cornelia Al-Khaled - Group COO, London


What does the 2023 IWD theme #EmbraceEquity mean to you?

#EmbraceEquity means to seek out an inclusive, fair and equal world. It’s to support and value diversity and to treat and respect each individual, considering their own unique needs. It’s to take action to make positive changes in our workplace, community and personal lives, aiming for a future free of bias, stereotypes and discrimination. If we embrace equity, we will be able to achieve equality.

Debora Arima - Managing Director VSI Vox Mundi, São Paulo

Why do you think diversity in the workplace is so important?

A workplace that embraces diversity fosters an environment of innovation, creativity and productivity. At VSI, we are fortunate to have a team from over sixty different countries. This encourages multiple perspectives, experiences and ideas which leads to better, more progressive decision making.

Creating an environment where this unique diversity of backgrounds can share their experiences and ideas is paramount to helping us flourish at work as individuals, and is also fundamental to ensuring we produce high-quality, authentic content that represents our global audience.

William Russell - Managing Director, London


How do you encourage others to foster gender equity and inclusion?

I like to promote respect in the way we treat others, as well as empathic communication. Recognising that we all carry biases that impact our mindsets and behaviours is a baseline to support an environment of open communication, acknowledging that different ideas, opinions and perspectives help us to create the richest experiences and growth.

Promoting people changing roles can help us be in the shoes of someone else and see things from other perspectives. Personally, being willing and able to step into other people’s shoes has pushed me past countless boundaries and opened up endless opportunities. Trying that will make
us better friends, partners and professionals.

Alejandra Valdez - Managing Director, Mexico City 

Is there anyone in particular that has inspired you in your career?

There’s a person who has guided me through my life and working path and that’s my mum, a woman who embraced a passion and got a degree for it, but couldn’t benefit from it as living in the South of Italy means having fewer job opportunities. Her passion still lies in the box of minerals she keeps in the closet, in the archaeology documentaries she watches at night and in her eyes when visiting a museum.

Today, it’s easier to emigrate to places with better opportunities. But still, in too many cases, choosing to have a career means to sacrificing something, whether it’s family, spare time, relationships, sleep or home.

Diversity exists in many shapes and as long as people don’t receive the resources they require for their own needs, there will always be sacrifices to make. Connecting to people, creating communities and promoting inclusion will bring us a step toward equity.

Chiara Esposito - Head of Production, Amsterdam


What actions do you think need to be taken to better embrace equity?

I think there are two groups of actions. One has small and simple actions that can be done by everyone, every day, by listening, to acknowledge and understand the different needs of individuals and being inclusive in every way.

And another group has major actions to be taken by organisations and institutions. That includes the permanent practice of creating a diverse environment and ensuring fair treatment, opportunities and access for all people through inclusive hiring programs and internal unity campaigns.

Andrea Pinedo - Production Manager, São Paulo

What is the most important message you want to send to young women thinking about their careers?

Be confident, be respectful, take risks, have the courage to speak out and don’t create barriers that don’t exist. Trust yourself and your ability; your opinions are valid. Follow your passion, work hard and above all, be yourself!

Sally Wallington - Sales Director, London


Why are allies important?

When trying to affect change, one of the biggest hurdles is convincing people who benefit from the current status quo that change is needed. Having allies who are already known, accepted and respected by those in established positions of power gives additional credence to our message as we strive for equity. People are more likely to be receptive to a new perspective if someone they respect and trust supports that message.  

Additionally, it’s important for those who are pushing for change to know they are not alone. Having allies who don’t have to stand with us but choose to do so anyway lends fortitude and provides encouragement to be patiently persistent when change is slow to come.

Fay Kanagy - Media Services & Quality Assurance Manager, Los Angeles

Who do you feel is responsible for taking action on inclusion issues?

We are all responsible for taking action on inclusion issues. No matter what job we have, we can all take action, large or small, to foster and ensure inclusion at VSI. Of course, at VSI Berlin, we work hard to ensure the requirements are in place that provide fair access to opportunities and resources. But beyond that, we want inclusion to occur on a daily basis and with every interaction. And that’s where we all have an individual responsibility.

Dan Loganathan - People and Culture Partner, Berlin


What do you think can be done to address gender stereotypes?

Gender stereotypes are socially constructed beliefs on how men and women should behave and the role they should play in society. These start from infancy. From the colour of clothing parents dress their children in, to the patterns of behaviour they encourage.

Because the concepts are so deeply ingrained in the cultural beliefs of people, it is a challenging area, as foundations are set at such a young age.  Some key areas that can help address the negative influence of gender stereotypes are:

Education, a fundamental tool in addressing the issue. Challenging traditional stereotypes and teaching students about the negative impact this has on society in the classroom can help influence the life choices they make and promote a more equitable society in the long run.

Media representation is another key area that plays a huge role in influencing what are considered to be society norms and should be used to promote positive representations of behaviour. That includes showing more positive and empowered images of women, reducing the amount of negative gender bias language and promoting positive role models.

Farah Nanji - Group Finance Director, London

How do you influence your colleagues & the wider business?

Over the years, and wherever I have worked, I have always tried to both look up to other women, gather inspiration and learn from them, and support and provide inspiration for younger colleagues or those starting their careers.

I believe that for any business to succeed, it is essential to have a balance in every aspect of the business, and most importantly in the make-up of their workforce. I keep that in mind when building teams and recruiting, and I am always keen to support initiatives that help promote inclusivity and equality. We look internally to provide opportunities for growth and development and externally to collaborate with organisations that can help us achieve our goal to be an inclusive and diverse place to work for.

As a manager, I feel the responsibility to lead by example and demonstrate the values that we hold important as a group of people and as a business, equality being a very key one. I am inspired by my female colleagues across the VSI Group and constantly learn from their experience and the way they conduct themselves, and I strive to inspire those working with me, especially younger women.

Esther Calatayud - Operations Director, London


What progress have you seen on gender equity in your life and work?

The opportunities, not only career wise, have vastly changed in the last years for women. Being a career driven woman, and in my case also a woman without children, is no longer frowned upon. Quite on the contrary, I receive more recognition and respect nowadays when talking about my personal life choices. Furthermore, I feel like there are way fewer obstacles and limitations to women.

You can achieve whatever you put your mind to and that feels very empowering. Also, seeing so many successful and confident women of all ages within my circle of friends and colleagues is very inspiring.

Nina Robinson - Head of Global Services, Berlin 

How can we encourage more women to pursue entrepreneurship or senior leadership roles in their career?

By creating, re-designing and enabling organisational structures that work with one important factor: life. At VSI Berlin, we are looking forward to welcoming a wonderful, dedicated and trusted colleague back into our team who was promoted to a team lead role just before she went on maternity leave for a year. Why promote someone just before maternity leave? Well, why not?

Ulrike Schubert - Managing Director, Berlin


How important is it for women to lift each other up and what does that mean to you?

I believe that, as women, we should realise that if we do not lift each other up, no meaningful progress will be made. We are entering a new era in which women are beginning to be celebrated and given opportunities like never before. Let us not throw away these opportunities in an attempt to outdo each other, because of blind and insane competition.

Many workplaces are so heavily dominated by men that women are tempted to myopically focus on their own careers and interests, falling into the trap of competing with other women and keeping to themselves instead of working together. But we cannot allow ourselves to fall into this trap. We cannot allow ourselves to feel threatened by each other.

The next time you see a woman working to achieve success and her goals, give her strength! Give her every ounce of commitment that you would want someone to give you if you were in her shoes. What we must always remember is that we are on the same team. One woman's achievement is an achievement for all women. And we should all celebrate it!

Fabrizia Chiappini - Project Manager, Rome

What progress have you seen in the localisation industry?

We’re seeing a great effort to promote diversity and equality in the localisation industry, driven by some of the biggest content providers, from initiatives that facilitate access to dubbing by minority groups, to those that open the door for women to traditionally male-dominated professions such as mixing, or the creation of content that truly reflects the diverse communities and the importance of gender equity all over the world.

Pep Orra - Creative Director and Dubbing Supervisor, Spain 


What are the benefits of having women in leadership?

Women’s leadership is an undeniable driving force for gender equality and diversity. But I believe defining leadership in relation to gender, to stereotypically masculine or feminine approaches takes away the beauty of diversity. Female leadership is not “better” than male leadership. It allows for a combination of both, for innovation, for a varied workforce which reflects the reality of a world made by men and women that improves relationships and creates more equitable and inclusive environments which ultimately lead to success.

Pilar Lapena-Lazaro - Managing Director, Spain

What are the most effective ways to counteract the negative stereotypes of feminism?

We can do a great deal to move beyond the negative stereotypes about feminism at large and with specific reference to the workplace. Some concrete actions are:

Raising awareness of what feminism means in the workplace today and what it stands for, namely advocating for the professional, leadership, legal and economic rights of women, being equal to those of men.

Promoting inclusivity, parity, representation and equity across gender, race, ethnicity, class and sexual orientation. Speaking up and acting on any stereotypical and implicit biases that may distort our views and beliefs about our own and others’ abilities, as well as ensuring we help people pursue fulfilling careers in the areas where their passions and talents lie.

Encouraging a culture of meritocracy, a culture where great ideas come from all levels, genders and races, and all voices are welcome and respected around the table. Achieving gender parity and diversity in leadership.

Role models play a crucial role in fighting gender stereotypes. With more women in top jobs, businesses will benefit from creativity and the development and use of diverse knowledge and perspectives to foster new ideas.

Cornelia Al-Khaled - Group COO, London



Let's Talk

Are you ready to take your content global? Our experienced team is on hand to support you every step of the way. Find out more today.