A few months ago, there was some discussion on other blogs about companies that our fellow translators and interpreters would not work for due to ethical reasons. Among the companies that were mentioned by our colleagues were weapons manufacturers, extremists groups, companies that are known to explore workers in developing countries, businesses that don't share the translator's religious views, and many others. We think this is a fascinating subject, and we've put some thought into it throughout the years. Our guidelines aren't set in stone, but in general, we have declined work from weapons manufacturers, companies that make sexually explicit materials, extremist groups on all political sides, companies that exploit women, etc. Some companies we've had concerns about, but weren't quite sure. Sometimes it's a bit of a challenge to research exactly how companies conduct their business affairs. When in doubt, we go with our gut (which isn't a foolproof method, of course). Of course, this conversation opens a can of worms. How do we know that a specific clothing manufacturer doesn't violate labor laws? And what about the semiconductor company? Are they discriminating against some folks in their hiring practices? If yes, should that be a deal-breaker? No business, including ours, is perfect. There's lots of food for thought here, and we're not proposing that all translators stick to a specific ethical standard. Rather, we are just interested to hear how our colleagues have handled this and what their views are on the subject.
What about you, dear colleagues? Do you accept work from all customers? Do you have specific guidelines? If yes, what are they? We'd love to hear your thoughts. One of our colleagues is also thinking about writing an article on this topic for the American Translators Association's Chronicle magazine, so we figured we'd get the conversation started right here.
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