The Code of Ethics is a very important document for any professional, not just translators. Running an ethical business and ensuring the best practices at all times not only lead you to gain the trust and respect of your clients but also puts you in a leading position in your industry. As an entrepreneur, you must ensure the best practices within your business, even if that business is only you. But if it’s not, you must ensure that all members of your team adhere to a Code of Ethics, either through a professional association or through the company’s own regulations.
Being a member of a professional association
Some professions have professional associations. Sometimes it’s even compulsory to be a member of the association to be able to practice. That is the case for lawyers, doctors, etc. Some industries have professional associations, although it is not compulsory to be affiliated with one. That is the case of the translation industry where we have associations in most countries, but affiliation is not compulsory, although it is very beneficial.
In Australia, we have very good measures in place and two excellent bodies that promote our industry and the importance of professionalisation. These are AUSIT and NAATI. Both bodies are intimately linked for the good of the industry. NAATI is an accrediting body, whilst AUSIT is our professional association. NAATI adopted the AUSIT Code of Ethics and all its members must adhere to it. In the UK, there is the Chartered Institute of Linguists, which goes beyond the United Kingdom’s borders and is an internationally renowned Association and training body. They also have their Code of Conduct.
For some, being a member of an association could be just a money grab. After more than 10 years in this industry, I can say it is not. I know each country may have different realities and not all countries have associations that lobby for the industry and ensure good regulations for its members. However, being a member of an association is always positive, for so many reasons. First of all, is the fact that you have to prove your qualifications and that gives your clients assurance you are a professional, secondly, most associations have a code of ethics, which is very important not only training their members for the best practices and ensuring they adhere to them.
Creating your Code of Ethics
Some industries do not have associations, so companies don’t have something to adhere to. This does not mean they cannot have a Code of Ethics. A company can always have their own Code of Ethics as a way of ensuring that all its staff are aware of the best practices and comply with them. I think that is being a leader and showing your team how to help you run your business ethically.