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ATC-EUATC Ethical Business Summit

The first industry event on ethical business
for language service providers

Recently some of our team attended the ATC-EUATC Ethical Business Summit – the first industry event on ethical business – to find out what ethical, sustainable business for language service companies is and how we can build and grow a more successful business while doing good for the environment, our team, our clients, and our suppliers. It was a truly insightful event which has given us a lot of inspiration for the future!

The location really set the tone for the occasion, held during #GlobalGoalsWeek, at Coin Street Neighbourhood Centre. The venue is run by a social enterprise and puts the local community at the heart of everything it does. Their passion for creating an inspirational neighbourhood with a nursery, sports facilities, conference venue, housing, and commercial spaces, among other things, is a beautiful illustration of the importance of business, people and the environment all working in harmony for a better, more sustainable, and inclusive future. You can find out more about them here.

Back to the summit…

What is ethical, sustainable business?

Here are some insights we learnt from business sustainability experts, Claire & Garth Dallas from Dallas Consulting.

There is a lot of confusion on sustainable business, and it can be seen as a box-ticking exercise, however it is important to note that no company will ever be 100% sustainable. It should be seen as a journey; progress not perfection, with the ability to make a positive impact at every stage.

What is sustainability?

In 1987, the United Nations Brundtland Commission defined sustainability as “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

To work towards this, we should be looking at System Value whereby business, society and the environment are all interlinked. Business can’t succeed without society succeeding, and society can’t succeed without the environment succeeding. Businesses should address societal challenges in a holistic way, while not hindering progress towards a future-fit society.

A business’s purpose and governance should also be taken into consideration, to create the Quadruple Bottom Line of profit, people, purpose, and planet. If a business has purpose and is well governed, it guides the whole company in a positive direction. It was interesting to hear that smaller companies normally fall down on governance as they do not have a purpose identified.
As a business, we should be looking to add value in all four aspects.

Claire & Garth also explained that we all need to look at our business’s direct and indirect impact:

Every company is accountable and ignorance is not a reason not to take action. At a minimum, we should look at our direct business impact, i.e. the actions which we have control over.

They explained that we also have an indirect impact through our clients and suppliers. We should ask ourselves what procurement practices do they use, what are their policies, do they pay their workers a living wage, are they running their company in a fair way that looks after the environment and people? Do they ensure inclusion and diversity, are people well looked after, supported, and trained?

We should all strive to achieve break-even goals:

But we can also choose to go a step further and go beyond what we need to do by working towards additional goals:

What is Business Ethics?

Claire & Garth also explained that business ethics is the application of ethical values to business behaviour. Business ethics is relevant both to the conduct of individuals and to the conduct of the organisation as a whole. It applies to all aspects of business conduct, from business strategies and how companies treat their employees and suppliers to sales techniques and accounting practices.

Ethics, at its heart, is treating people as they would like to be treated – note the difference between this and treating people how you would like to be treated. Everyone is different and has different wants and needs. Companies should strive to ensure people’s needs are fulfilled within their business.

They went on to explain that it is important to identify who your business is about, both internal and external. This can be done by stakeholder mapping:

*Graphics taken from Claire & Garth’s presentation slides which they kindly shared

Their speech really highlighted the important relationship between people, the planet, and our business which really resonated with us and we are already thinking about how we can improve the value that we add in each area… watch this space as our journey evolves!

Sustainable Business Case Studies

We were also given the opportunity to gain some insights from Anja Jones from AJT and James Brown from Comtec Translations who have both recently been certified B Corp.

B Corp is a global movement to encourage business to balance profit with planet and people. It means their businesses meet high standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability.

They both agreed that people are the constant, so they invest heavily in their staff and have implemented things like Mental Health First Aiders and a Wellbeing Committee. There was the consensus that by becoming more people-centric, businesses can build a core community where everyone feels looked after and therefore clients get a better service.

They said that the planet figures into all that they do and that they regularly measure their carbon footprint and have created a Green Committee.

What’s Next for Wessex Translations?

We’ve already shared a bit about our Action for the Environment meetings both on the blog and our social media channels, and we’re continuously sharing ideas to reduce our negative impact on the planet so that we can continue our journey to becoming more environmentally aware and sustainable. Our team will be taking part in Carbon Literacy training to help build a plan for reducing our carbon footprint, give us an insight into the main factors of the carbon footprint cycle and how emissions are assessed, and explain the UK’s net zero strategy.

We are also going to be looking at introducing some other policies and initiatives considering what we learnt from the Summit. As Claire & Garth said in their speech; it’s a journey – progress not perfection – and we want to make a positive impact at every stage.

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