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"There is a seat at the table for women, we just need to be brave enough to sit down and be counted."

The first in a new blog series, 'LanguageLine Spotlight', looks to showcase the very people that make the organisation tick, whilst covering a range of topics - as told by our staff. In honour of Women's Month, we hear from Geraldine O'Donnell (Client Services Manager) and her views on Women in business, her experiences and what she believes needs to change.

What were your first impressions of joining LanguageLine and the language service provider industry? Did anything surprise you? In hindsight, do you think you noticed anything different as a woman?

When I joined, I had never heard of LanguageLine, and I was totally unaware of how many people in the UK needed access to interpreting services. 

I loved that it started as a charity and grew so that everyone in the UK had the right to be equal and have access to public services. It struck me first that it felt like a family – everyone was amazingly welcome. I built relationships with people very quickly. That is one of the main reasons I have remained at LanguageLine – the people! It struck me that we had women in senior positions and strong women who were managers. Some had been at LanguageLine for a long time and were powerful in their roles within the organisation. They weren't afraid to share their ideas and be heard. Everyone welcomed it as knowledge is power, regardless of your gender.

What do you think are the most significant barriers to women in business today? And how do you believe we can solve this?

There are many factors which contribute to these barriers. However, two that are obvious to me are self belief and the historical position of women which is in part down to their historically assigned role as the first port of call for their families. I know as a mother, I feel guilty for working long hours and not having the time to focus on my children and the need for external care after school. 

However, my husband will leave for work in the morning and not give it a second thought. We need to believe that we deserve the promotion and never be afraid to go for it. There is a seat at the table for women. We just need to be brave enough to stand up and be counted. We need to congratulate ourselves on our achievements. All senior management within any organisation is responsible for encouraging their female workforce to find their self-confidence and mentor them to be brave to achieve their goals.

What are you most proud of as a successful woman in business? What would you say is your most outstanding achievement?"

I am most proud of how I have evolved and grown since I started at LanguageLine. I was very young and wasn't sure what path I wanted to take when I worked in Finance.

 LanguageLine recognised my skills and gave me the opportunities to flourish and find my strengths. I am proud of the support I can offer my peers and the Management team. I am very proud of my team; I love watching other people grow in knowledge and confidence, enabling us to provide world-class service.

Aside from pride in being part of the team that won the award for Excellent Customer Service, my most outstanding recent achievement is surviving the pandemic with 3 small children at home. I can honestly say it was the most stressful time in my career. I had to take each day as it came, prioritise my workload, ensure my team had the support they needed and help my children navigate the issues they were facing. I had to ensure that no matter how busy the day was and what was going on in my home life,

 our clients always received the best possible customer experience. There is no way I could have survived without the support from the Exec team and my team – Bekki played a considerable part in this as my Team leader. Despite the enormous challenges, the whole organisation can feel proud of the record growth last year.