Is it ethical to list companies that I've worked with on my profile?
Thread poster: Aditya Ikhsan Prasiddha

Aditya Ikhsan Prasiddha  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:10
Member (2012)
English to Indonesian
Jul 31, 2013

Dear colleagues,

As you can see on my profile, I don't disclose the names of the companies that I've worked with. Do you think it's ethical if I do? And if I have worked with one particular company via an agency, would it be considered dishonest if I state "I've worked with materials from company X" without mentioning the agency? Thank you, and critiques about my grammar are welcome because I'm trying to perfect my Englishicon_smile.gif

[Edited at 2013-07-31 03:36 GMT]


Kevin Fulton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:10
German to English
Do not list companies unless they're a direct client Jul 31, 2013

To be honest, there's not much to be gained from listing agency end clients. Potential customers are interested in your expertise, not the end users of your translations. I've done translations for several manufacturers of high-end automobiles, but naming the end clients in all likelihood would be a violation of non-disclosure agreements I've signed with my agencies. I don't even list the agencies I've worked for on my résumé, as they are entirely irrelevant to my experience.

On my web site I list a couple of direct clients, but to be honest, I don' think anyone has bothered to get that far.

You should concentrate on selling your expert knowledge, not the end users of your translations.


Lincoln Hui  Identity Verified
Hong Kong
Local time: 13:10
Chinese to English
+ ...
By permission Jul 31, 2013

Ask first.

As with references, here are many, many companies that want this as proof of your translation experience, so it's hard to avoid unless you are quite established. But you should ask.


Teresa Borges
Local time: 05:10
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Ask permission first! Jul 31, 2013

I do not list my clients on my Proz profile, but I always ask permission from my customers (only direct clients) before listing them on my web site.


Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:10
English to Polish
+ ...
Here we go Jul 31, 2013

I don't like listing direct clients as clients without the agency's permission – which presumably holds enough goodwill with the end client to cover that angle too.

Everybody who translates for agencies translates for large corporations, government bodies and otherwise important institutions. When people start listing all of the former as if those were direct clients, it can project a false impression, one that the translator is question is so well trusted by the major players that they come to that translator with jobs directly and entrust him with the most important affairs. Which is not the case.

Except the typical prospective direct client does not know. This means that for example I'm going to be outclassed by just about any agency-hired translator on the point of clients boasted of in portfolios and on websites. Which is not something I appreciate.

As for clients, ask them. I've asked mine, they don't mind. In fact, some clients may be happy to get this form of publicity, especially if you give them some space to describe their business instead of just the name and a small logo. For example, I decided to include descriptions for my clients in this fashion when it came to listing them on my site.


Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:10
Member (2007)
+ ...
Imagine what might happen Jul 31, 2013

You give some leading company as a reference in your profile because you've translated a text that clearly was owned by them. Someone who needs a translation in a similar business area comes to your profile and contacts that company to see what they have to say about you. Who? What? Where? They link to your profile and the best reaction they are going to give is a shrug, assuming that you worked with the agency they contracted. The worst is that they've only ever had confidential texts translated, and they get angry with the agency for allowing you to print their name.

I really don't know what might happen, but you never had any contract with the agency's client so, to my mind, it would be unethical to suggest that you did. I've translated texts for a "leading pet-food manufacturer", a "well-known children's clothing retailer"... I won't give names. I've worked on speeches by a Pope and various heads of governments, but that doesn't make them my clients, and I certainly wouldn't want someone contacting them for a reference!icon_biggrin.gif


Nicole Rodrigues  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:10
+ ...
NDAs Jul 31, 2013

I am really surprised that no one has mentioned NDA so far.

As far as I am concerned, most, if not all, major translation agencies in the world request their freelance and in-house translators to sign Non Disclosure Agreements, exactly to stop the translators from mentioning the agency's clients as their own. This is standard procedure in the industry.

The NDAs usually include penalties, in case of disclosure of names or information about what was translated for the agency's client. Otherwise any translator who was hired by a translation agency to translate, for example, a material for Microsoft, can go out and about saying they have worked for Microsoft, when, technically, Microsoft is the agency's client and the translator was hired by the agency and not by Microsoft, who has no clue about who the translator is.
So no: translators should not mention companies they have translated material for in their profiles, if this work was done through a translation agency.

The translator can, of course: mention the name of the translation agencies they work for, without mentioning their end clients and without disclosing information about the projects they have taken part of for these translation agencies.

The translator can also mention the name of his/hers direct clients, if the translator was not asked by this direct client to sign a NDA that includes not mentioning a connection with that client. Some translators request the copyrights for their translations, when it comes to direct clients. They agree to not disclose confidential information about the company or project, but they have the right to mention that they have translated a website, a book or a number of documents to company X. It all depends on the existence of an NDA between the parts involved and the clauses included in this very same NDA.

So I don’t think there is a formula for all translators regarding mentioning or not mentioning clients’ names. What exists is common sense and awareness about the agreements made by you and each one of your clients.


Thayenga  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:10
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
What you can list WITH permission Jul 31, 2013

Listing the agencies' clients that you've worked for through the agency if similar to claiming that you know the leaders of your country, while, in reality, all you did was watch them on TV or read about them or maybe saw them from a distance.

Off topic? Not really. If you list your agencies's end clients as your own, you would be claiming to have worked with them directly, eye-to-eye, so to speak. Based on what you've posted here, this isn't the case.

The only clients you are allowed (by law) to list on your website or on your ProZ profile are those that you have actually worked and corresponded with. And, as a bottom rule, always, always and always ask their permission if you want to list their names anywhere for reference or, perhaps, to attract new clients from similar or the same industries.


Aditya Ikhsan Prasiddha  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:10
Member (2012)
English to Indonesian
Thank you Jul 31, 2013

Thank you very much for all the kind advice and knowledge. I guess I have to start adding "via an agency" to some of the works listed on my profile.


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