Director Sulaiman Khan Zadran
Chief of Staff
Strategic Communication Manager
Pashto, Dari, Persian & English
Member of International Translators Association
Masters in Translation/Languages
M.A Political Science
Doctor Marcia Pinheiro
Lecturer at IICSE University
Certified Translator and Interpreter
Portuguese & English
Member: PROz, RGMIA, Ancient Philosophy
Ph.D. in Philosophy and Mathematics
Master in Philosophy
Certified TESOL/TEFL professional
Licentiate in Mathematics
PO Box 12396 A’Beckett St
Melbourne, VIC, AU, 8006
Director Sulaiman, I understand you have to manage a few translators at your agency. I have been working in this industry for quite a while now. I started in Brazil, South America, decades ago. I also have courses in management and experience that allows me to state that I am a really good manager if results are what matters. Because of this background, I believe our discussion will be of value to the industry, the T & I Industry. One of the things that attract my attention is assessment and selection. I wonder if you are concerned about ethical issues.
Doctor Marcia, The T & I industry is expanding on a daily basis due to the increase in integration level of different cultures into one another and the industry requires bringing diversities together for overcoming the demand of translation, which can literally raise concerns about ethical issues during assessment and selection. To avoid ethical issues we need to respect the autonomy and choice of translators from all cultures and use organizational behavior to its highest levels in the Industry. The supervisors and Translation PMs should look after the skills and experience of a translator instead of discriminate them for being from a different society.
Director Sulaiman, I suppose you are talking about the so many ways in which we can use the organization in terms of imposing behavior that is expected. If so, we can talk about how the managers can make everyone proceed in an ethical manner, and that is a good proposal. We then do have to think of the role of supervisors and PMs, that is, of the functions that those usually have. Looking for the translator and then worrying about whether they are keeping or increasing their range of skills and depth of experience seems to be a good start. The fact that they come from a different background should create excitement and interest in us rather than the will of treating them in a less favorable way, I totally agree with you. There is a concern with the amount of demand, and NAATI, for instance, I was told, has been obliged to accept people without even considering assessment because of how rare their language is in Australia. I tend to think that the best way to deal with diversity is conversations, time to mingle, space to think about things, so say events and things of the type. I do see our class, of Ts & Is, as a much sacrificed class in those regards: We seem not to be able to talk much about what most matters, so say levels of compliance and most adequate wording for the ethical guidelines.
Doctor Marcia, I agree with the points you made on how managers can make everyone proceed in an ethical manner and more. I also believe in an idea which can help managers and supervisors of every industry to avoid discrimination against their employees; We have similarities between our employees/translators as the tool to build more friendly environment and closeness among them, while on the other hand we have the differences which generate the whole issue and I believe in replacing it with respect. Managers should ethically guide employees of Ts & Is or any other industry to avoid discrimination. When it comes to business and an official environment we don't always have to look at it officially, but rather to provide some space for ethics, friendship, and as you mentioned events of different types. When we deeply think about ethical issues we also come to the point that it is not just the managers who are responsible for this, a translator or interpreter from a different culture should be more careful than the organization not to put himself in a condition to be discriminated. Minorities are the people who become upset very easily, maybe no one has an ethical issue with you but rather they might have given you some negative feedback because of your work performance while you would be thinking that you are being discriminated. Therefore, I would call that the duty and responsibility of one and all.
Director Sulaiman, the points you make are of major importance: I always believed in managing by example. In Australia, they do not seem to care much about that, but I imagine that, in places like India, because of the influence of people like Gandhi, they must do their best to always behave in an ideal way when occupying the position of manager. I also became aware of the One Minute Manager. This is a book used to teach management in Australia, and I do embrace their philosophy: one praise, then one reprimand. I do think that is a good strategy, since it leaves the person with something good, and, perhaps, because of that, with the will to invest in improving their performance. One of the main issues in my mind, when it comes to ethics, and you must know that my concern is as high as to make me create a course on the topic (https://www.udemy.com/ethical-codes-for-translators-and-interpreters/), is crime: Believe it or not, the amount of crimes, and even atrocities, committed by some translators and interpreters against others, and even by managers against interpreters and translators, is realistically not low. I actually know of people who exist practically in full slavery, with all members of their company knowing about it. Whilst publishing what they see in the press would save the life of the professional, and they can certainly do that, they watch and participate in the festival of atrocities in First World Democracy for even more than 16 years in a row and do nothing. In places like the Middle East, things must be much worse than in Australia, Brazil or the United States, I imagine, since the official regimen allows for all that. I got to know about things and I denounce for these spectacular 16 years plus with no success. I, unfortunately, do not possess any vehicle that could be meaningful in this case, so say a newspaper, a TV channel or anything like that. I would hope that you, as a manager, despite your religious choices and origins, would do the impossible to make sure the rights of the person are fully restored and they enjoy maximum justice, compensation, and reversion of damages. I definitely think there is nothing more important, also in terms of management, than being able to put ourselves in the shoes of the other. You mention another point that matters a lot to me: Managers should guide employees so that there is no discrimination. I definitely think that both translators and interpreters should be normal employees, not casual or contract ones. With this, we would be able to have even daily meetings with them and influence their behavior in a more meaningful way. I wonder about the reasons to keep them under the situation of casual or contract when there is enough work in their language to keep them busy for 40 hours per week.
Doctor Marcia, let me continue by agreeing with your idea that translators and interpreters should be normal employees as this is a field where diversity exists to the highest level and it's very difficult to deal with it remotely. I was a translator and interpreter for more than 7 years in Afghanistan and India both as a normal employee and on a freelance basis. I had faced clients and companies from different regions while most of them were western. I did feel discriminated with the client I worked as a freelance translator even by my first and last name, though I am not sure about the idea my clients had during the time but being a translator with a different culture, religion, language and everything else, I had that automatic feeling even before approaching a client, the feeling that I might be discriminated, but that would finally and unexpectedly end up with a great friendship. There wouldn't be any of the so-called discrimination. I thought about the real reason behind it and I believe it was the Translation Project Managers who were treating me as a member of their team and it was the company who had put restrictions against discrimination in their manual policies as well as the training they give to their managers about the best ways to deal with an employee from a different region. The leaders of an organization should take ethics as serious as the business that they are making money with and then only they can build a progressive network. Peter Drucker says Culture eats strategy for breakfast, which emphasize on the idea that we must pay serious attention to ethics in our official and business environments otherwise it will not just make us upset but it can also take us far from our goals and strategies. Therefore, translation and interpretation companies should carefully look after ethical and cultural issues both for broader business, network, income and having happy translators and interpreters from different regions around the world.
Director Sulaiman, it has been a pleasure conversing with you here, and I am sure I would like to hear more from you, especially in what regards the topics one of us started here but the other did not have the opportunity to address. You seem to talk about friendship between interpreters, translators, and clients. As you know, friendship with clients is seen as a threat to impartiality, so that it is not really advisable. Of course, as a director or manager, you would not be tied to those rules, especially if not providing linguistic services yourself, but, as an interpreter, we would have to avoid intimacy with the client at any expense. I would agree if you said we need to rethink some items that are currently in the ethical codes since that is one of the issues I mention in my online course. Is that the case, please? Once more, thank you very much for your generosity and contribution to the T & I industry: Each article helps us inspire others to think, organize things, and act.
Doctor Marcia, yes, that's very true for many cases to rethink some items in the ethical code and as well as avoiding intimacy with the client. I would like to add one more point about discrimination against freelance translators and interpreters; as the industry is becoming more dependent on freelancers from all over the world who work from their homes or small private offices and discrimination against them can be more likely to take place due to a big amount of diversity and they do not have the opportunity to meet or spend time with staff members of the company physically. Let’s talk about a company which handles translation for more than 50 languages, they probably cannot handle in-house linguists for all language pairs and would need to reach out to translators from different countries. These companies need to have managers who understand the ethical values of a work environment and should be examined against discrimination during the recruitment by asking about their ideas indirectly on the subject. It is very natural that a translator or interpreter would be as nice with the project managers as possible for their employment security and for not losing the opportunity and for addressing their ethical concerns a company must be very careful during the recruitment process, not just for the purpose of preventing discrimination, but for running the business in a great manner, they need to hire open-minded project managers who have broader ideas and can put an end point on ethical issues towards their translators and interpreters. While this case is applicable for regular or normal translators too. Thank you for sharing your great ideas on the topic, an article can change lives of many professionals and can give ideas on one’s ongoing but remained unsolved issues.