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The ATC’s Member of the Month in August 2023 is York-based , LEaF Translations one of the association’s newest Associate Members, champion of ethical business practices, and digital marketing translations specialist.

We caught up with LEaF’s Founder Lucy Pembayun to talk about sustainability, people, and ethics in the language services industry, detouring via SEO and AI-enabled services.

Ethical business by design

Translator by origin, Lucy Pembayun founded LEaF Translations in 2017 with a determination to prove that any type of business can and should be ethical.

“I’m quite anti-corporate and people-focused, and getting frustrated with the general corporate landscape and bad behaviour by big corporations, I wanted to show that you could be an ethical, sustainable company even in an industry that’s not traditionally linked to ethical business like Fairtrade or organic cotton,” Lucy explains.

From a small translation company specialising in German-English tourism translation, in the six years since its inception LEaF has grown its service offering to multiple language combinations, and developed a specialist SEO and marketing translation niche supporting some of the UK’s leading digital marketing agencies.

“Our ethical business mindset drives everything we do. Early on, we realised that the more we grew the company, the more influence we could have on the society around us, on other companies, and on clients as well,” Lucy continues.

Taking a stand, and taking those small steps

At LEaF, ethical business is about sustainability, people, and setting a positive example through small steps that create change.

LEaF was the first translation company in the UK to become an accredited member of the Good Business Charter which encourages businesses of all sizes and all sectors to adopt ethical business practices – from real living wages to employee well-being and representation, and from ethical sourcing to a commitment to customers.

“The bottom line for us is that we want to give more back than we take away, make that change visible, and also encourage everyone else to start taking positive steps towards ethical business practices,” says Lucy.

In terms of sustainability, that has meant things like reducing the company’s digital footprint through limiting the number of emails and attachments, and choosing a green provider to host the company’s website. LEaF also works with  Ecologi to offset carbon emissions, support climate projects, and plant trees – with 20 trees planted in every new client’s name.

“The other big thing for us is people, which in terms of ethics is much more of a conversation in our sector because of the way we work, with freelancers in a position where they can easily be exploited. So we pay fair and within a fair amount of time, and treat our partners as well as our clients, as people,” Lucy illustrates.

A changing business landscape, or not?

As SEO and digital translation experts, Lucy’s team works on content for some of the biggest global brands, and the conversation around AI-enabled services is something LEaF is keeping a close eye on.

“We definitely did see a dip when ChatGPT first came out, with SEO agencies experimenting with it, and its clear AI’s influence will continue to grow. But for high-end, customer-facing brand content, marketing and website translations, clients will continue to need unique, high-quality content for a long time to come still,” muses Lucy.

For LEaF, it is their in-depth understanding and expertise in multilingual SEO that sets them apart from the competition and AI – alongside their commitment to ethical business by design.

Lucy Pembayun was in conversation with ATC CEO Raisa McNab.

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