March 8th marks International Women’s Day, a global celebration of women’s social, economic, cultural, and political achievements. It is also a day to reflect on the progress that has been made towards gender equality while recognizing the work that still needs to be done.
To celebrate this occasion, we had the opportunity to interview Amanda Gerlinger, EF English Live’s People, Culture and Diversity Manager, a passionate advocate for diversity and inclusion in the workplace.
During our interview, Amanda shared her personal journey that led her to this career path, discussed her beliefs on promoting gender equality and supporting women in the workplace, and shed light on the ongoing efforts by EF English Live to foster diversity and inclusion.
Could you please introduce yourself and share a bit about your background?
Hi, I am Amanda, my pronouns are She/her(s) and I am half Spanish and half German. I always describe myself as very fortunate as I have been born and raised in my beloved and sunny Canary Islands. The past 11 years, I have spent living in 5 different countries (Spain, Germany, Denmark, Panama and England) and like almost any other person at EF, I am obsessed with learning new languages and traveling. Other words that could describe me well would be DEI advocate, feminist, adventurer, booklover and social animal. I am currently based in the Chelsea office in London, and I work as People, Culture and Diversity Manager for EF English Live.
What inspired you to become a People, Culture, and Diversity Manager and how did you get started in this field?
Since I was a child, my parents have always taken me to all kinds of demonstrations. Sometimes it was about avoiding the construction of a new highway that was going to destroy an important nature reserve, other times it was about fighting for women’s rights or denouncing homophobic or transphobic murders. My journey started with my parent’s upbringing, and it made me become very passionate about these causes. When I found out that EF had a DEIB team I immediately signed up as an ambassador. Currently, I am part of the EMEA DEIB Committee together with Clementine Maunier and we are super proud to say that in this year’s program, we have 85 ambassadors that are helping with their motivation and ideas to move forward DEIB projects across products, offices and countries. Last year, I finished my Masters in Gender and Communication in Barcelona and immediately afterward I started my new role in London with the objective of making EF English Live even more diverse and inclusive.
What can individuals do to promote gender equality and support women in the workplace, both on International Women’s Day and throughout the year?
International Women’s Day is a day to give women more visibility, celebrate women’s achievements and most importantly, to remind us all that gender equality has still not been achieved worldwide. We are on a good path, but we are not there yet. To achieve gender equality, we need to start by educating ourselves. We cannot solve what we do not understand. So, first things first, we need to understand what our unconscious biases are so that we can dismantle them. Another work of self-knowledge we must do is to identify the privileges we have had in our lives. Talking to other people and learning from them will help us be aware of diverse realities. This is of utmost importance because we need to understand that having diversity in the workplace is only the first step and that we need to make sure that everyone feels accepted and included. When employees feel they are in a safe environment, they are more likely to speak out and share their own ideas. This has a domino effect as it is proven that the companies that best manage the inclusion of their diverse workforce, are more innovative, and it is proven that innovation increases profitability.
Looking to the future, what do you see as the next steps for EF English Live to continue promoting diversity and inclusion and support women in the workplace?
Pretty much continue with what we are already doing. Our main goal is to make sure we support our employees during their whole journey. It starts with hiring as everyone must have a fair process, then it continues with supporting our employees so that they can have a good work-life balance and finally in having an equal representation of women at all levels. My personal goal for EF English Live is to continue holding DEIB sessions, sharing tools and resources, motivating employees to discuss things they had not thought of, and making them feel that this is a safe and fair space.
Can you share any advice for individuals looking to make a positive impact in promoting gender equality and diversity in their own communities?
Start by listening. Even though we mean good, many times we make the mistake of wanting to implement the same strategies across communities without first understanding their specific needs. Once you have the full picture it will be easier to tackle the problems.