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Refusing work due to ethical beliefs
Thread poster: xxxNath93MCR

xxxNath93MCR
United Kingdom
Local time: 08:23
French to English
+ ...
Apr 20, 2016

Hi everyone,

I'm a masters student from Manchester University studying translation and interpreting. I'm writing an essay on ethics and was wondering whether anyone had refused work due to ethical beliefs and how you approached it/declined the work?

Thank you,

Nathalie


 

Srini Venkataraman
United States
Local time: 02:23
Member (2012)
Tamil to English
+ ...
They are different Apr 20, 2016

Ethics is different and work is different.
Especially when you accept an interpreting assignment, you cannot excuse yourself after learning about the ethics issue." The show must go on".
In translation after seeing the material, you have an option to accept or not.


 

Bruno Depascale  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 09:23
Member (2009)
English to Italian
+ ...
military documents Apr 20, 2016

I wouldn't translate documents about weapons or of military content.
It would be simply unacceptable. Until now I've never received such offers, but on some occasion I've seen a couple of job posts here on proz

[Edited at 2016-04-20 19:37 GMT]


 

philgoddard
United States
Member (2009)
German to English
+ ...
Hello Apr 20, 2016

We've actually discussed this many times before: just look for the Search Proz.com box in the top righthand corner, or use Google and include "Proz" in the search term. Here's one thread:

http://www.proz.com/forum/business_issues/259627-turning_down_project_for_moral_ethical_reasons.html

I've occasionally turned down work for the tobacco industry. And I used to translate a magazine for a well known multilevel marketing company, but finally decided a lot of their products (particularly those that promised to reverse the ageing process) were fraudulent.


 

Kristina Cosumano  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 09:23
Member (2015)
German to English
Won't translate anything racist, misogynist or homophobic. Apr 20, 2016

Unless it's for a human rights outfit that needs to know what's written/said.

Right now I am working on a long list of consumer "testimonials" for a penis extender. I suppose someone may have found that too offensive or just plain awkward to translate. I'm having fun, though.icon_smile.gif


 

Peter Shortall  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:23
Member
French to English
+ ...
Refusing to work for companies Apr 20, 2016

Although I've never been offered texts that I found objectionable, there are several translation agencies that I would refuse to work for on ethical grounds, as I believe that their behaviour is harmful to the translation industry. And when I say ethical grounds, I mean that these are companies which behave aggressively towards translators or their own in-house staff, or have poor payment records, or work in a way which doesn't guarantee good quality, etc. I am in the fortunate position of not needing to accept every assignment I am offered, so I am able to turn down work from these companies - and I believe that if all translators do this, we and the industry as a whole will benefit. For me, it's about making sure we have a sustainable profession in which professionals are valued and motivated, and clients are happy with the service they receive, so I equate ethics with sustainability.

 

EvaVer  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:23
Member (2012)
Czech to English
+ ...
Yes, I did Apr 21, 2016

Tobacco, fraudulent "self-improvement" schemes, religion... However, after nearly 30 years of practice, I can assure you that what you find objectionable when you are respectively 25 and 55 are two different things. For example, I used to be outraged by "adult" content, now it's a laugh. No, I don't do it on any regular basis, but it just doesn't seem so horrible any more, just pointless.
As someone said before me, you can do nothing when it's interpreting and you are already there. It happened to me years ago - I remember a business meeting that turned out to be about illegal dealings, and a training in a chemical company purportedly about marketing, but really about fight against environmental associations.
But what Peter Shortall says is not "ethical grounds", it's just good business practice.


 

Kay Denney  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 09:23
Member (Apr 2018)
French to English
yup Apr 21, 2016

I refuse anything that goes against my stance as a pacifist and a vegetarian, so nothing military, nothing about hunting or fishing, nothing about meat or fish consumption (tired of explaining that I do wine menus but not food!)

I once translated a letter for a "science company" about rebranding GM crops and it gave me a migraine, so I then decided simply not to work for these people any more, except for the department making safety equipment and lab coats.


And I also take a more proactive stance in that when looking for clients I seek out those who are actively engaged in sustainable development (my clients include manufacturers of wind turbines, organic cosmetics and food products, bicycles, holistic medicine) and I also do pro bono for several organisations (not Amnesty, the reports of torture are too harrowing)


 

xxxIlan Rubin  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 10:23
Russian to English
It makes sense to turn it down Apr 21, 2016

If you really believe in something then you are unlikely to translate something opposed to those beliefs in my view. If you do translate it then you probably don't hold those beliefs very strongly.

Recently I was asked by an agency to translate a short press-release. After I started I looked up the website of the end client and found that it was a religious order, one of whose clear aims was to restrict women's rights in certain situations. So I told the PM that I had changed my mind and too bad. The PM (a woman) was surprised but didn't argue.


 

xxxIlan Rubin  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 10:23
Russian to English
Are you sure? Apr 21, 2016

Kristina Cosumano wrote:

Right now I am working on a long list of consumer "testimonials" for a penis extender. I suppose someone may have found that too offensive or just plain awkward to translate. I'm having fun, though.icon_smile.gif


Are you sure that this is not harmful and it works? I haven't researched the topic but I would have thought that this causes harm and probably doesn't work (which makes it fraud). In which case I would turn it down.


 

Lincoln Hui  Identity Verified
Hong Kong
Local time: 15:23
Member
Chinese to English
+ ...
Darwinian test Apr 21, 2016

ILAN RUBIN wrote:

Kristina Cosumano wrote:

Right now I am working on a long list of consumer "testimonials" for a penis extender. I suppose someone may have found that too offensive or just plain awkward to translate. I'm having fun, though.icon_smile.gif


Are you sure that this is not harmful and it works? I haven't researched the topic but I would have thought that this causes harm and probably doesn't work (which makes it fraud). In which case I would turn it down.

I can't find any sympathy inside me for those harmed by the use of penis extenders. It is better that that such...innocent minds...do not pass their genes to the next generation, which, incidentally, use of penis extenders would ensure.

[Edited at 2016-04-21 10:12 GMT]


 

Annamaria Amik  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:23
Romanian to English
+ ...
Yes, I have Apr 21, 2016

... and for ethical and also religious/spiritual reasons that in today's world seem almost laughable to others.

I do feel much happier when I turn down jobs I find objectionable for various reasons. The stress and awful feeling of lack of integrity are much worse than the loss of income from those jobs.


 

Oksana Pooley  Identity Verified
Ukraine
Local time: 10:23
Ukrainian to English
+ ...
Yes, when I see that the outcome of the job is going to cause harm. Information is a weapon. Apr 21, 2016

Nath93MCR wrote:

Hi everyone,

I'm a masters student from Manchester University studying translation and interpreting. I'm writing an essay on ethics and was wondering whether anyone had refused work due to ethical beliefs and how you approached it/declined the work?

Thank you,

Nathalie


I have. It was very clear that the video (of children!) was going to be used for propaganda purposes and to whitewash crimes of a certain group of people trying to make it into high political office. Information is a strong tool that can, sometimes, be used as a weapon.


 

Charlie Bavington  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:23
French to English
Yup Apr 21, 2016

Nath93MCR wrote:

anyone had refused work due to ethical beliefs and how you approached it/declined the work?



I've recently declined several jobs relating to French companies bidding for contracts in Saudi Arabia, and I said I felt that the West's long-term interests would be better served if we were less financially involved with Saudi Arabia at this point, so I wanted no part of it. I also declined work for arch-tax dodgers Rothschild, and said that was the reason.


 

Paul Dixon  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 04:23
Portuguese to English
+ ...
Never happened to me Apr 22, 2016

This has never happened to me, but I would refuse work on any homophobic materials.
Another issue I would never touch would be instructions on bomb/weapon use.


 
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