The ATA Chronicle - November/December 2021 - 10

will also usually decline an
assignment if they don't
feel equipped to meet the
client's expectations. Simply
assuming an interpreter or
translator with a certain
background is incapable of
completing an assignment
inevitably harms that
individual's career.
How Inclusive Are We?
So, let's admit that there's an
inclusion problem within the
language industry. Keeping
the aforementioned in mind,
how could we, as a whole,
promote inclusion? Within
ATA and in the translation
and interpreting industry,
we frequently interact with
clients, agencies, project
managers, fellow linguists,
as well as leadership
committees and boards.
These various stakeholders
could help promote inclusion
by encouraging collegiality
in a variety of ways. How?
Let's examine what agencies/
project managers, fellow
colleagues, and associations
can do.
Ways Agencies/Project
Managers Can Help
Agencies and project
managers could begin to
take additional steps to help
promote inclusion. First and
foremost, they could work
to diversify their vendor
pools whenever they're
looking to hire new language
professionals. This is one
area where networking
events and conferences
come into play. Attending a
wider range of these events
would be a great way for
agencies to meet language
professionals they wouldn't
otherwise know. Agencies
themselves could organize
more networking events/
seminars where the theme
is specifically designed to
encourage conversations on
diversity (e.g., " Your Role
in Workplace Diversity " or
" Overcoming Unconscious
Bias in the T&I Industry " ).
Diversity training has
proven to be key, as it not
only allows trainees to
understand the degree to
which certain communities
are excluded from our society
and industry, but also helps
slowly change mentalities
and mindsets. Therefore,
agencies should train project
managers to foster inclusion
and collegiality in their daily
interactions with linguists
around the world. For
example, these workshops
could cover:
y How to be mindful of
other cultures
y Cultural competency
y How to deal with
microaggressions or
unconscious biases
y Defining types of bias
(e.g., affinity bias,
attribution bias, beauty
bias, confirmation bias,
conformity bias, implicit
bias, and unconscious bias).1
Another potential avenue
to explore is social media.
Today, social media has
made it so much easier to
reach out to colleagues, and
agencies can research and get
to know the interpreters and
translators with whom they
could be working quite easily.
Examining social media
presence could be a practice
used to help agencies make
informed decisions about
potential new hires in a way
that is more objective than
relying on biased ideas about
10 The ATA Chronicle | November/December 2021
a linguist's country of origin
or name.
Speaking of bias, it's
essential for project managers
to remain professional and
collegial at all times, especially
when corresponding with
linguists from diverse cultural
and regional backgrounds.
Project managers also need
to remain neutral during
the hiring process and reject
the preconceived idea that
interpreters and translators
from a particular region are
not capable of undertaking
an assignment in the same
language spoken in another
region, especially when
candidates are qualified
or certified.
Another bias that's rarely
discussed is name bias. For
example, consider a hiring
manager reviewing two
résumés. They see the name
at the top of one résumé and,
rather than looking at all the
skills and the candidate's
broad experience, get stuck
on the fact that they can't
pronounce the candidate's
name. As a result, the person
moves on to the next résumé.
In the same vein, if a project
manager or hiring manager
sees a name that sounds
" more Spanish " or " more
French " than another, they
may give that person's
résumé more attention
than someone whose name
is not traditionally known
as " Spanish " or " French. "
That's how someone can
be unconsciously biased
when selecting interpreters
or translators from a
directory or pool of language
professionals. (There have
been many studies on this,
including one from Harvard
Business School.2
)
Finally, project managers
should change how they
inquire about certain
assignments. Instead of
asking loaded questions such
as " Do you speak African
French? " , they could ask,
" Could you serve clients from
this region? Have you worked
with clients from here
before? " The latter doesn't
imply that the linguist is
only capable of tailoring their
language services to clients
from their country of origin,
but instead acknowledges
their potential versatility.
Ways Fellow Colleagues
Can Help
Collegiality is a great way
to start down the path of
greater inclusion. But what
does " collegiality " mean?
Well, it encompasses many
things, including:
y Trying to get to know more
colleagues who are different
from us, even if they work
in another language pair. In
other words, if we primarily
interact with people who
are culturally similar, it
doesn't always offer the
same benefits as meeting
people from different
ethnic/racial backgrounds.
Wider and more diverse
circles are always a good
thing, both culturally
and professionally.
y Remaining professional
at all times, no matter
with whom we interact,
and being mindful and
respectful of other cultural
practices. This is where
having a network of
colleagues from diverse
backgrounds can make
a difference. You'll have
a greater awareness of
how a person's culture
can influence their
professional conduct.
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The ATA Chronicle - November/December 2021

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