Associations’ ethical role is fundamental to our industry. Some translators may see them as just another business making money, which translates into another expense for them. All entrepreneurs know that “you don’t make money if you don’t spend money”. So, association affiliation should be seen as an important investment in your business and your career.
Associations create awareness about our industry
We all agree that our industry is undervalued and misunderstood. A lot of people still see translation as that very easy task a high school student can do for them. They believe that if you can speak two languages, you can work as a translator or interpreter and that can be a very serious assumption.
Associations do a great job promoting our industry. Most importantly, they create awareness of our job and how important professional language services are in today’s world. They have the power to lobby with governments, so they are also aware of the importance of our industry and create regulations that recognise that importance and favour our sector.
AUSIT and NAATI are great examples of that. Over the years, they have established the connection between our industry, and most importantly, the importance of our services and the Government. In Australia, the Government and most public and private companies only accept translations done by a NAATI Certified Translator. This was possible because these two bodies showed how important translation is in our lives.
Associations create the basis for ethical language services
Most associations have a Code of Ethics and all their members must adhere to this code. For me, this is one of the most important roles of our associations. It promotes good values within the sector and ensures good practices.
I strongly believe that most translators do the right thing and have good work ethics even if they are not a member of an association. But a Code of Ethics is not just a bunch of rules we all must follow, it also tells us how to conduct our business ethically and solve problems should they arise. It also signals our clients that we do follow an ethical code and the best practices.
If there are issues, the association can also be the arbitrator who evaluates the situation and acts in the best interest of the sector. That does not mean they will always favour their members. If there is a complaint against a member and the association finds that the member was at fault, they will intervene and that member will be made responsible. That means keeping the good reputation of our sector and great standards and ethics.
Associations educate us and help us in our professional development
Some associations are also educating bodies. For example, the Chartered Institute of Linguists is responsible for one of the best-regarded qualifications in our industry, the Diploma in Translation. AUSIT promotes several events, like webinars, workshops, courses etc, that will also help its members in their professional development. Part of that development is also understanding the value of our job and how we can do it ethically.
Mentoring programs are also available. This help promote solidarity between colleagues and also ensure that those values are passed on from generation to generation.
These are just some of the reasons why I believe associations are so important and I recommend all my students to be affiliated with one.