Creating a website is hard work. It’s one thing to live by principles of hard work, good practice and fair pay when everything is between you and the translators you work with, but formalising these principles and, more importantly, putting them out there for the world to see, makes it something else entirely. I think it’s a good thing though; it’s made me realise that the translators who I’ve been working with are pretty awesome. It’s also emphasised what I’ve always thought, by vocalising a thought you make it real. (My accountant, on the other hand, might argue that it became real a while ago…)
I was thinking about this recently when I was setting up the Twitter handle for Silver Tongue. I’ve been an avid Tweeter for a number of years and I’ve seen plenty of examples of oversharing. When someone tweeted about turning “names into energy” (I’m looking at you, Tom Cruise) we saw that our world of instant gratification (and publication) has its drawbacks, especially for Tom’s followers, n’est-ce pas? So creating the website, or turning my ideas into energy if you will, became something of a minefield. Do I really want to commit to minimum rates for translators? Do I really believe in fair pay when I’m the one committing to paying fairly? Well, yes I do, on both counts. I think the profession of translation should be treated as such – a profession. Translators use their skills to help people all over the world, just like other professionals do. If my, albeit small, company can do its bit to ensure that the immensely talented professionals who work in my industry get paid accordingly, then yes, I want to nail my colours to the fair pay mast.
The (un)fair pay cross is not one that is born solely by translators or language professionals. The pay divide between men and women is a news item that doesn’t get old. I’m not sure why it’s still okay that a female doctor gets paid 28.5% less than her male counterpart; I pretty sure she wouldn’t have spent 28.5% less time or 28.5% less money on her medical degree. To illustrate the point, here’s a handy graphic from the Think, Act, Report Framework from the Department for Culture, Media & Sport which is designed to get companies thinking about how to banish the gender pay gap. Unfortunately, it doesn’t give advice on
punishment or plans for backdating retrospective cases.