Translation and Localization in Building a More Inclusive Workplace

The Power of Translation and Localization in Building a More Inclusive Workplace Culture

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Today’s workforce is strongly committed to bringing about real change in company culture, and one of the key ways to do this is through effective diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives.

At its core, DEI is about fostering a culture that welcomes all and advocates for inclusive practices. Companies that prioritize DEI initiatives are more likely to attract and retain talented employees, and create an overall more productive work environment.

As your company develops DEI initiatives, remember that when it comes to language, DEI is about more than simply translating expressions. You should carefully consider how language plays a role in empowering your multilingual employees and leveraging their unique strengths. Let’s take an in-depth look at how translation services go hand-in-hand with a strong corporate DEI program. 

Why Translation and Localization for DEI Initiatives?

Diversity comes in many shapes and sizes, and multilingualism and multiculturalism are key elements. Language services can go a long way in advancing your workplace’s inclusion of team members who speak languages other than English. This is especially the case for global companies with remote employees in different regions worldwide. 

Language services can make your team members feel supported and valued, ultimately leading to key results such as:

  • Empowering multilingual employees. An inclusive workplace should aim to communicate in the language employees feel most comfortable in, both for vital documents such as contracts and everyday scenarios such as a corporate newsletter.
  • Streamlining communication and productivity across global locations. Employees will be more productive if they collaborate clearly and share knowledge about customers, products and needs without barriers. 
  • Engaging with your multilingual audience. Your multilingual employees may be a great advantage in reaching your multilingual audience. Listening to diverse voices at your company can prevent cultural misunderstandings and lead to high impact when tailoring customer messaging. 
  • Leveraging employees’ unique skill sets. While your multilingual employees should never take on responsibilities that aren’t part of their skill set (i.e., becoming in-house translators without training), their unique multilingual perspectives may enrich company projects and/or strategic planning. 
  • Navigating safety and warnings. Many workplaces rely on accurately translated signage, manuals and training sessions to ensure employee safety. In fact, an estimated 25% of job accidents occur due to language barriers.
  • Reducing turnover rates. Team members who feel supported are more likely to stick around and become loyal to the company. In contrast, language misunderstandings can lead to poor morale and high turnover. 

How to Use Translation to Make Diversity and Inclusion Part of Your Company Culture

DEI initiatives can be tailored to meet the unique needs of each company and address specific areas for improvement. There are many ways to support the success of these initiatives, including translating the following materials:

  • Employee handbooks and onboarding materials
  • Corporate training/e-learning platforms
  • Company newsletters and communications
  • Safety training to decrease accidents and Safety Data Sheets (SDSs)
  • Signs and warning labels around the workplace
  • Training materials to increase promotability
  • Expansion of customer service offerings
  • Live interpretation for company events, like meetings and conferences

Building an Effective DEI Plan With Translation Services

Ultimately, you can enrich your DEI plan and implement it more effectively by utilizing translation services. By communicating with multilingual employees in their preferred languages, you’ll build connections and trust in real ways—here’s how.

1. Translate Employee Handbooks and Training Materials

First, language support is a critical part of making multilingual employees feel safe and comfortable. Companies should consider providing translated materials, language resources and multilingual technology. This can help ensure that all employees have access to the same information, regardless of their language background.

In addition, offering language classes is a great idea. Companies committed to multilingualism may even provide several different language classes (besides just English) so that the initiative encourages all staff to expand their language knowledge base. 

2. Emphasize the Importance of Effective Communication

Fluid communication is a clear indicator of team cohesion and productivity. That’s why your company should consider training employees to better communicate, e.g., over email and during meetings. This can help get teams on the same page regarding best communication practices, regardless of their language proficiency. 

Moreover, these training sessions are an opportunity to discuss cross-cultural communication and how to respect different communication methods that arise with team members, customers, investors and more.

3. Leverage Multilingualism and Diversity

Encouraging diversity is the right thing to do, and it’s also good for your company. According to a McKinsey report, companies with greater diversity are 35% more likely to achieve higher-than-average financial returns (McKinsey) and 70% more likely to capture a new market (Harvard Business Review).

Diversity, including multilingualism, is, therefore, a huge asset that companies should leverage. Value the multilingual skills of your team members and listen closely to their cultural perspectives. They may become your go-to consultants for better serving and reaching new clients. 

4. Foster a Culture of Inclusivity Beyond Language

Finally, language is just one element of encouraging DEI in the workplace. Creating a culture of belonging may also involve:

  • Respecting and supporting cultural practices (e.g., having a prayer room on-site or offering floating holidays for employees to celebrate the days they choose)
  • Bolstering anti-discrimination and grievance resolution processes
  • Building diversity-focused recruitment and leadership pipelines
  • Creating DEI toolkits and resources
  • Hosting DEI-focused events and workshops
  • Encouraging out-of-the-box thinking through innovation days

At the end of the day, don’t make assumptions about what your DEI program should look like. Ask your teams what their pain points and goals are so you can tailor your initiatives with them in mind. 

Enrich Your DEI Programs By Partnering With Multilingual Connections for Translation Services

Diversity, equity and inclusion are critical components for any company looking to build trust with team members and stakeholders, leading to better understanding and stronger relationships.

As translators and linguists, we’re especially aware of the importance of multilingualism in society and the workplace today. Learn more about how Multilingual Connections can help you achieve your DEI goals and build stronger relationships with your employees and stakeholders.

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We periodically share news and updates around translation, language and culture. Rest assured we’ll never share your contact information with anyone!

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