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The ATC’s Member of the Month in June 2023 is AJT, one of the first language service companies in the UK and the world to gain B Corp Certification, promoting an inclusive, equitable and regenerative economic system for the people, and the planet.
We caught up with AJT’s Managing Director Anja Jones, to talk about ethical business practices in the language services industry, and AJT’s journey to B Corp Certification.
An ethical mindset
AJT are translation and localisation specialists focusing on the European market, with a team of 22 working remotely across the UK, Europe and Costa Rica. Founded in 2010 by Anja and Mark Jones, AJT was B Corp Certified in 2022.
“Ethics is something we have always been mindful of. In the language services industry, there are structures and mechanisms that create inequities, for example, around how linguists are treated when it comes to rates and payment terms. And in a hugely fragmented industry, there is very little transparency. We were keen to be certified with B Corporation because we wanted to have an external certification to show that we are an ethical company, and to live our core values of transparency, honesty and integrity,” Anja explains.
A practical roadmap to certification
Certified B Corporations, or B Corps, are companies verified to meet high standards of social and environmental performance, transparency and accountability.
AJT’s journey towards B Corp Certification started with a self-assessment, a free online tool to evaluate an organisation’s readiness to apply for certification. For AJT, the initial quick assessment gave a clear roadmap of the areas to work on, and from there, it took the company nine months to work through their action points, create policies, and document their processes.
“Some of the practices we put in place were very concrete,” Anja says. “We carried out a salary review, and benchmarked our graduate salaries against the UK Living Wage Foundation. We employ linguists straight out of university in in-house positions, and for us it was important to match the living wage recommendations. These now act as our guidelines, so when inflation rates went crazy last year, we bumped up everyone’s salaries to align with new guidance.”
Empowering the community
One of the key elements of B Corp assessment is getting scored on how you look after your people and the wider community.
For AJT, and the language services industry as a whole, that wider community is predominantly the freelance language specialists and professionals we work with.
“Traditionally, the different parts of the language services supply chain have been siloed and kept from each other,” Anja explains. “We want to be as respectful, transparent, open and honest as we can – but we also expect everyone else to be the same. We introduced a Code of Conduct that our community now follows, and we also connect the community through a collaborative workspace that our in-house and freelancer teams share. This is something that empowers people to be vocal, and work together to raise the bar.”
That’s something to aspire to, in a fragmented language services industry spread across continents. On 21-22 September 2023, Anja will step on the stage to share more of her journey at the ATC EUATC Ethical Business Summit. Join us to continue the conversation there!
Anja Jones was in conversation with ATC CEO Raisa McNab.