In 2021, LanguageLine were awarded and recognised as one of "The UK's Best Workplaces for Women" for medium-sized businesses - ranking within the top 40 which is no easy feat! As we're amid Women's Month (at the time of writing), I wondered; what is it about this organisation that led to us winning this award?
I could have just looked at some of our processes and called it a day. However, what could be better than hearing it from the amazing women within our organisation?
As a cis-male and a relatively new addition to the team, the perspective of women in the workplace (from a holistic sense) is something I could never fully capture. So, I embarked on an internal campaign, asking the women of LanguageLine our title question. After collecting the responses, I tallied the answers and ranked them based on how frequently they were mentioned.
These are the top Seven reasons why LanguageLine UK is a great place to work for women.
Reason #7: "Wonderful Women Leading the Charge."
According to gov.uk, The UK is now "second in international rankings for women's representation on boards at FTSE 100 level, with nearly 40% of positions now held by women, compared with 12.5% 10 years ago". In line with this positive change, LanguageLine UK has historically had many women in leadership roles who have excelled in their positions.
This is evident from the outstanding leadership demonstrated by our Managing Director Vanessa Eke, who has ‘…cultivated an environment that is extremely motivating and reassuring for a woman". This extends to managers and team leaders who contribute significantly to creating an inclusive environment whilst also garnering success. This is backed by piie.com, which states, "On average, having women in leadership positions aligned with a 15 per cent increase in profitability."
Reason #6: "Incredible Flexibility"
Coming in at number 6 is the amount of flexibility LanguageLine provides to its staff. As outlined in some of the comments I received….
"The flexibility has allowed me to work around the needs of my young family whilst trusting me to do the best job I possibly can, all of the time."
"I would say flexibility is a key factor. I appreciate that LanguageLine recognises that as a woman, I need to balance work and the needs of my family."
The level of freedom afforded to women is open to all staff members. However, within our survey, this aspect of flexibility resonated with many women within the organisation. The hybrid model is critical in making LanguageLine a great place to work.
Reason #5: "An Even Playing Field."
Equal opportunities can seem like a long-standing member of the 'Corporate Buzzwords Club'. And for a good reason; according to onlinemba.com, a diverse workplace improves productivity, provides higher EBITDA margins through innovation, and makes the organisation look more socially responsible. All great things in theory.
Where companies fail is not implementing tangible changes to truly create a fair environment for women. LanguageLine has ‘……created a Board of women called LanguageLine Women who will work hard to drive the empowerment of women in the workplace. Not only for women but all ethnicities and sexualities, to bring a balance of equality across the globe". A clear sign of making tangible efforts.
This is echoed by others, as evidenced in these comments:
"Equal opportunities are for all, whether employees work full-or-part-time, and for those with family commitments, LanguageLine will strive to accommodate where feasible for the business. We make a real effort at LanguageLine to ensure women are hired, paid equally, and have equal opportunities for advancement. We have many women in senior and management roles."
"Our men and women alike offer support, coaching and encouragement."
"Women genuinely have the same opportunity as everyone to develop and gain promotion."
"Most importantly the men in roles of significant influence have the same drive for fairness and equality that we engender throughout the business."
Reason #4: "You feel like a Valued Team Member."
Being heard and having their opinions taken seriously really matter. One of our staff mentioned: "Everyone has a voice here and is heard. You drive your career growth – if you want to develop, the tools are there, and the SLT (Senior Leadership Team) is supportive". Many others also felt they could "speak out, and my suggestions/comments are considered". It's clear there is a conscious effort from all staff involved to contribute to making each member of the team feel heard, and the sentiment was prevalent from the responses:
"Executive involvement – you know that you can reach out to Executive Management, and you will get their support’
"LanguageLine actively supports the progression and development of female employees. Teams here are highly capable and gender diverse which is really refreshing. I feel included, listened to, and respected."
"I feel like a part of the team and identify with the company, rather than an outsider – something I have not experienced before."
Reason #3: "Support for Family life."
Entering the top three, considering family life in the work setting, was a key. With over 36% of adults working from home at least one day per week, the Hybrid-model LanguageLine has adopted truly made a difference. Ensuring women do not have to choose between work and family; "I joined LanguageLine with a full-time role, but since coming back from MAT leave, I have been supported in my request to work 4 days a week. This gives me a chance to spend one more day with my child every week instead of working 5 days a week."
This extends to working and soon to be mums: "I would like to say that LanguageLine has really supported me since coming back from my maternity leave after Covid, regarding being flexible with my wishes to change my working hours." This acknowledgement of keeping a sustainable work-life balance is due to LanguageLine making a "conscious effort to understand and fit well with other areas of life. As a working mum, this is invaluable. We have real family policies to support all staff".
With a continual rise of working mothers staying in the workforce longer, it's evident that this support for family life, whilst considering and working in tangent with the needs of the business, is here to stay.
Reason #2: "Company Culture is Crucial."
In the runner up spot is the overall culture of the company. As with many of the entries on this list, each reason is part of a comprehensive approach. It's not just the responsibility of those with female staff; it comes from everyone. And despite the vast array of departments, backgrounds, seniority or skillset, the company culture is engrained throughout all our staff members. This was truly clear in many of the responses from our survey.
"At LanguageLine we do have a lot of opportunities to gain experience, not just about work-related matters, but things like mental health awareness, Menopause Awareness etc. As a woman and a manager, I feel these are important to my role."
Some of our respondents went even further to pinpoint the core tenets of our culture (in their opinion):
Making a difference to society – Before joining LanguageLine, I wasn't even aware that the services we provide help connect people and even help save lives. So, even when there is high pressure sometimes, you feel that your work is worth far more than just money.
Openness – you know that you can be honest and open and will not be judged and punished if your viewpoint differs from your colleagues.
Belief – LanguageLine believes that women can be whatever they want to be and will provide them with the tools to facilitate this.
Having such a positive, open, and honest company culture facilitates an inclusive environment for women today. It becomes standard practice for everyone in the future.
Reason #1: "A Truly Progressive Environment."
Going home with the gold is the day-to-day environment of work. It'll be easy to run awareness campaigns about gender equality and leave it. However, it's essential that making LanguageLine a great place to work is what we strive for every day. Whether that's in the boardrooms, over Teams or in the break room. This sentiment was repeated by nearly all our respondents in one way or another, showing how truly embedded the progressive mindset is throughout the organisation.
From the work view: "I have been working for many companies with a high-pressure environment, but what differs LanguageLine from them is: Collaboration rather than competition, support rather than blaming and finger-pointing, recognition rather than ego clashes, diversity and inclusion in practice rather than on paper and statistics. I feel it is a progressive place creating a positive environment where women are well established, can progress and can make a significant contribution to the business. It feels like there is equality and diversity at all levels."
To the wellbeing of our staff: "Health and wellbeing is a business priority – it means more than health insurance and mental health and includes individualism, flexibility, autonomy, trust and praise. I don't feel threatened or pressured by my male colleagues. The men are very much part of the success of women here in the UK."
Since joining LanguageLine and collaborating with many incredible women in the organisation, the culture of LanguageLine - by far - is the aspect that has stood out to me most. It's no surprise that this is the number one reason why many women see LanguageLine as a great place to work.
And in closing, here is one response that perfectly encapsulates this progressive environment:
"I have always been surrounded by diversity, so this is one thing I love about LanguageLine - there is a bit of everyone!"
Couldn't agree more.