PROFILE

Erin Wynn
Leading through example

Supported by Welocalize

It’s a big achievement for any company to have even one employee recognized by their peers. In the case of Welocalize, they had not just one, but five employees nominated for inclusion in this special MultiLingual issue, with four making the top 30.

According to Erin Wynn, who oversees the customer and people experience at Welocalize, that kind of recognition comes from setting the right example and establishing a culture where women can thrive. She took time to discuss with us how the company accomplishes that, and she also shared her thoughts on some of the other Welocalize women recognized in MultiLingual this month.

Congratulations on having so many women from Welocalize featured in the MultiLingual women’s issue! Could you tell us a little about why you think so many were nominated by their peers? 

We have a culture that values and encourages recognition. We are all encouraged to recognize and celebrate each other’s achievements. Combine this with our emphasis, passion, and priority on diversity, equity, and inclusion, and I believe this is why we have so many nominations.

Tell us a little about your journey into the language industry. What attracted you to the work?

My journey, like many in this industry, is unconventional. I first learned of the language industry after the elearning company I worked for was acquired, and I left to join an elearning translation company: Transware. Being a relationship person at heart and leaning into a career in sales, when I joined Transware I was instantly blown away by the industry as it went far beyond translation. It allows the opportunity to work and collaborate with people from diverse backgrounds and truly make an impact on global communication and business, specifically in the transfer of knowledge required when working with learning content. The vast range of job opportunities has kept me in this dynamic industry. From there, Transware was acquired by Welocalize in 2008, and the journey continues for all of us with the work being more interesting than ever 20 years later. The language industry continues to thrive and evolve while changing the world through communication, diversity, and inclusion.

What are some of the most important lessons you learned throughout your career that you think made you so respected among your peers?

Taking responsibility for our mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes, but taking ownership and finding a way to work through situations always will earn respect.

Communication and active listening is another! Learn to listen, ask questions, and express yourself clearly, concisely, and respectfully.   

Be reliable. Show up on time. Keep promises. Be there for all and be someone who can be counted on regardless of the situation.   

Be open to always learning. Keep an open mind. Seek feedback. Take on new challenges and be a bit afraid. Be OK with failing.

Relationships and nurturing those relationships are key. It is essential in any career. Invest the time in getting to know people and find common ground.   

Be adaptable. Work and the world constantly change and are completely out of our control. The ability to embrace new situations is essential.   

Be a team player. I have always been in sports and on teams. That means being flexible, leading by example, being supportive, and contributing to team goals to win and deliver on the goals.   

And last, keep a positive attitude! A positive attitude is contagious. It can make or break any culture or situation. Stay optimistic even in the most challenging of times.    

Tell us a little about some of the colleagues featured in the magazine.   

We are so proud to have had five Women of Welocalize (WOW) nominated for this issue. Those five are: Brigid Byrnes, Nadia Garrido, Viviana Bernabe, Noula Aravidou, and me. Of the five, four of us made the top 30. This is such an amazing honor and accomplishment.

Brigid Byrnes is one, for instance. Could you tell us a little about her journey and your thoughts on her achievements?

Brigid is the poster child for what we strive for here at Welocalize. We talk about getting in the door, and the opportunity is yours to take wherever you so choose. Brigid joined us as an hourly employee doing audio transcription QA five years ago. Over those five years, she has had five promotions and is currently leading two teams in AI services. We take great pride in supporting each other and very early on, Brigid was recognized as someone who had great potential, and many got behind her and alongside her advocating for full-time employment and a broader remit. Brigid is highly motivated and committed to growing Welocalize and our AI services. Brigid also lives with a passion for making the world a better place. I am inspired by her story and journey here at Welocalize. The future is very bright for Brigid.   

What about Nadia Garrido? What do you think made her stand out to her peers?

Nadia is talented and incredible with her expertise as a quality manager for some of our biggest clients. The feedback we get about Nadia that makes her stand out from her peers is that she has a great depth of character and is thoughtful, kind, and not judgmental. Her mindset makes her great at resolving issues and staying calm under pressure. A peacemaker. This type of human is rare and needed in companies.

Viviana Bernabe is yet another colleague featured this month. Could you share your perspective about her?   

I feel so fortunate to have met Vivi through an acquisition. She joined the Welocalize family as a high performer in the life sciences team. She was not shy and quickly found her way and voice, becoming an integral part of a team. She is active in the localization industry, co-leading GALA’s Interpreting and Technologies SIG and serving as the program director of technology for Women in Localization.   

Vivi is fearless, a talented problem-solver, team player, and has a willingness to take on new challenges. She does not shy away from tackling difficult roles or tasks and instead faces them head on. Her attitude, desire to learn, and drive is contagious. I love that about Vivi and believe these are a few reasons why she has been recognized by many of us to date. We are so fortunate to have Vivi on our team. Her future is bright, and I look forward to continuing to watch her grow, lead, and thrive with us.    

What are your thoughts about the industry as a whole? Do you think it’s sufficiently diverse?

Diversity leads to faster growth, greater employee engagement, and better performance. A Boston Consulting Group study found that diverse management teams have 19% higher revenue thanks to innovation. And teams where men and women are equal earn 41% more revenue. In addition, having a diverse workplace creates a sustainable talent pool for the future.

The language industry, like many other industries, has made progress toward diversity, equity, and inclusion. However, there is still much work to be done. Our industry is all about working and communicating with different people, languages, and cultures so DEI should be something that plays an important role.

Language companies have started to take steps to increase diversity and promote inclusion, such as creating DEI programs to put DEI at the top of the agenda and as an important part of the conversation, offering language services in a wider range of languages, and partnering with diverse language professionals and businesses.

However, there are still significant barriers that prevent full diversity in the language industry. For example, language education and training programs may not be accessible to people from all backgrounds, and bias (whether conscious or unconscious) can still exist in hiring and promotion practices.

What can be done to promote more diversity and equitability within the industry?  

You can start by actively supporting diversity and creating company cultures that embrace a diverse and inclusive environment. This can be achieved by ensuring processes and systems are in place to enable diverse talent to enter and progress through the organization.   

This begins with conscious efforts to hire diverse talent at all levels of the organization, sending a message that you value diversity. Inclusion goes beyond getting diverse talent into the organization, it is about creating behavioral changes at all levels of the organization to enable retention of  valuable talent. 

It is important to educate employees so they’re always aware of their own behaviors and their role in creating an inclusive workplace culture. Giving people access to excellent training materials and an opportunity and space for self-evaluation ultimately benefits everyone.

What does Welocalize do specifically to encourage this? Tell us a little about the company’s initiatives. I’ve heard about a few of them already, like Human Mission, Women of Welocalize, Humans of Welocalize, and more.   

Welocalize formally kicked off its DEI mission in 2019. Our number-one goal is to provide safety for all employees. At our kickoff in 2020 introducing DEI and the overarching mission, we asked attendees how they would describe DEI. One employee summed it up in one word, “safety.” From that point forward, this has been our mission. We live and breathe DEI. It is not a check box. It is our culture.    

Part of DEI is the Human Mission, Humans of Welocalize, Women of Welocalize, LBGTQ+, and Welocalize Engagement Groups (WENG). These are led by employees in order to ensure everyone at Welocalize is listening, actioning, and caring. We have a lot of work to do and continue to put in the time. We are committed to this mission.   

Welocalize also prioritizes career and mentoring for employees. How does that tie into advancing the role of women in language work?   

Welocalize is 64% women. We are committed to prioritizing women’s careers by offering a diverse and inclusive company. Career development through our career framework, which we rolled out starting in 2021, provides clear paths for career development and mentoring, and, in turn, helps women advance. We have gone to great lengths to ensure fair and equal pay and benefits for all, regardless of gender. We brought on a full-time compensation analyst to ensure we have a transparent pay policy and review regularly to ensure there are no gaps. We have comprehensive benefits packages that include maternity leave and flexible work arrangements. This allows women to balance their personal and professional lives while advancing their careers. I believe these commitments help everyone in the language industry, and if we all are committed to making it a priority to create a culture of equality and opportunity, the advancement of women’s careers in the language industry will follow.     

Is there anything else you want to mention? 

I want to take the opportunity to thank Smith Yewell, the founder and CEO of Welocalize, for building a company that prioritizes diversity, equity, and inclusion well before it was a “thing.” It was his “thing.” His leadership and vision have set the standard for all, specifically in the language industry. I am most honored to have had the opportunity to lead under his sponsorship and mentorship.   

His focus on the human mission is truly admirable. Smith prioritizes the needs and well-being of all individuals and has a level of compassion and empathy that is rare in his role and in business. I know I am not alone in overstating the profound impact he has had on so many and specifically women. Thank you, Smith!

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