Apr 01, 2021

By Kelby Clark
Women leaders across ViacomCBS explain the importance of women—and men—empowering other women in the workplace.

In Proud To Be, we highlight ViacomCBS employees and their personal histories. In this installment, we spoke to members of the company’s women-focused employee resource group, WOMEN+, about the importance of celebrating Women’s History Month and building a support system.

Around the world, women continue to be underrepresented both in front of and behind the camera. At ViacomCBS, the work to change that doesn’t stop.

“There are a lot of things that can happen in a workplace where women are more engaged,” says Josephine Rotolo, senior director of toy design and product development at Nickelodeon. “It’s our responsibility to invite more women to the table. If there's someone who's not speaking up, ask for their point of view. Give credit where credit is due, and give women the opportunity to weigh in.”

The ViacomCBS Newsroom spoke to Rotolo, as well as Marisol Villegas, Lourdes Murillo, Sarah Nix, and Jeanine Liburd about lifting each other up, what male allies can do to support gender equality, and how companies can foster community and inclusivity.

 

On the power of authenticity…

Sarah Nix, senior director of archives and global data governance at ViacomCBS: As I become more senior in my responsibilities and in my positions, I’m often the only woman in the room... Having a sisterhood, having allies in this space has been really, really important for my growth within the company—and as a person.

Marisol Villegas, senior director of MTV Integrated Marketing at ViacomCBS: I think a lot of times, as women, we second-guess ourselves… Sometimes we get in our head, and we think we can't do this. But leaning on other women, as well as male allies in the workplace, gives you that push to get out of your comfort zone.

"At ViacomCBS, at every step of my career, I’ve been supported by a woman."

Jeanine Liburd

Chief Social Impact and Communications Officer at BET Networks

Jeanine Liburd, chief social impact and communications officer at BET Networks: I could go on and on about the incredible women who supported me in my early days of motherhood, in the early days of my career. At ViacomCBS, at every step of my career, I’ve been supported by a woman. It’s how I got my first role.

Lourdes Murillo, learning and development director for the Americas at ViacomCBS: I truly believe that as women we need to consistently lift each other up. We need to be allies. We need to be a family. We need to support ourselves and each other constantly in order to unleash our power.


On creating diverse and inclusive spaces…

Liburd: I just celebrated my 20th year at Viacom. I've watched the diversity numbers kind of ebb and flow over my time here. But one thing that has been consistent over my time here has been this notion of inclusion, of being able to share my thoughts, of being part of a team that really respected what I had to say and where my values were mirrored within the company… Your company cannot succeed if the workforce does not reflect the audience it serves. And our audience could not be more diverse. They are demanding inclusion at every step of the way.

Nix: You hear about the circumstances where women might be in a meeting, and they say something that doesn't get heard. Then a man might say the same thing, and everyone starts nodding and agreeing. Having another woman who can sit at that table with you and back up your idea is so significant and so important.

Murillo: Having a diverse team is not sufficient if their perspectives are not integrated or even considered. As a company, I think it is essential to recognize women’s contributions but also uplift and empower women’s voices.

Josephine Rotolo, senior director of toy design and product development at Nickelodeon: There are a lot of things that can happen in a workplace where women are more engaged… Along with our male allies, it’s our responsibility to invite more women to the table. If there's someone who's not speaking up, ask for their point of view. Give credit where credit is due, and give women the opportunity to weigh in.

On moving beyond a mere ‘moment’...

Rotolo: We won't be able to move ahead in this fight without everyone supporting each other. Women's History Month should be everyone's history month, because we all have mothers and sisters and daughters in our lives. Beyond the month of March, I think we should look at ourselves and ask: How am I helping advance equality, equity, and inclusion? How am I helping shift the status quo?

"Beyond the month of March, I think we should look at ourselves and ask: How am I helping advance equality, equity, and inclusion? How am I helping shift the status quo?"

Josephine Rotolo

Senior Director of Toy Design and Product Development at Nickelodeon

Nix: As this has become more of a conversation within the workplace, I'm much more aware of what I’m doing at an individual level to help break down barriers. I'm making sure that the women I share rooms with get to say what they need to say… that they're not falling into the stereotype of women being quiet or they’re not feeling silenced.

Liburd: Part of everyone's collective journey is understanding how we can support each other in more strategic ways. Not just: ‘Hey, I'm here to support you.’ It’s more: ‘Hey, here are some tools to help you.’ These are things that we have to take the initiative on... and we have to be confident in ourselves enough to have those conversations, as well as willing to put in the work.