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Natalia Cama’s Dissertation from the University of Portsmouth’s MA Translation Studies explores the experiences and representation of a diverse range of minorities in UK language service companies from the perspective of Diversity, Inclusion and Equality (DI&E).

“Our perception of the language services sector is that it is an inclusive, multicultural industry,” comments the ATC’s CEO Raisa McNab. “However, no research has existed on the makeup of language service companies’ workforce, or employees’ experiences of DI&E. Natalia’s research is a first look into how diverse, exactly, is the UK language service company landscape, what minority representation looks and feels like, and what our next steps should be towards better awareness and DI&E policies across the sector.”

Executive summary of MA dissertation

Minority Representation and Experiences in the UK Language Services Sector

“Minority Representation and Experiences in the UK Language Services Sector” explores ethnic minority and minoritised group experiences in UK language services companies, and what Diversity, inclusion, and equality (DI&E) initiatives look like in this sector. In the autumn of 2021, a quantitative survey was conducted with employees of ATC member companies. The primary goal of this study was to improve understanding of minority group experiences in the sector and to provide insight into the ethnic makeup of staff in this previously unknown UK sector. This study was also inspired by a Market Research Society (MRS) survey conducted in 2020.

Based on a small sample, the results of this study offer an initial view on what the language services sector may look like in terms of DI&E and the full-on experience of minorities (particularly ethnic minorities. The study provides an early inside look at some of the experiences of language service sector workers in the United Kingdom. The majority of language service company employees surveyed recognise that there are DI&E concerns in the business that need to be addressed and that there is still much room for improvement. Significant concerns exist, particularly among younger employees in the sector who appear to have fewer possibilities and may not feel as appreciated as their peers.

On the other side, when compared to their white, British, middle-class, middle-aged, heterosexual, able-bodied male peers during the epidemic, the majority of participants do not feel slighted. However, the fact that more than half of the respondents were White British employees and more than a quarter were Caucasian of some other background suggests that there is less ethnic diversity in this sector. This is something that future research should look into, and it should equally explore gender salary disparities further. It was difficult to establish any firm conclusions on this subject, although a very low proportion of employees said their organisation was clear about its gender pay gap and actively sought to resolve pay disparities. There were too many sample size constraints to draw any significant conclusions on this matter.

On the other hand, one has to bear in mind that roughly 66 percent of survey respondents were women, indicating that their perspectives on this issue should be researched more. One troubling finding that would warrant additional consideration in future studies is that 66.7 percent of participants believed that discussing personal experiences of discrimination or observing improper behaviour with senior executives would have a detrimental impact on their careers. This would also demand additional inquiry into how to report incidences of workplace abuse or bullying, what the escalation process looks like, and how organisations and top executives respond to such occurrences.

On a positive note, LGBTQIA+ people felt far more hopeful about DI&E topics in the industry. There might be various reasons for their optimistic attitude that are outside the scope of this study. This might undoubtedly point to competent leadership and solid foundations in DI&E in language service organizations. It would be fantastic if whatever programs are now functioning so effectively in the industry around sexual orientation and pride could be extended to other populations covered in this survey. Overall, it shows that people from minority groups are reactive and adaptable to change and that DI&E initiatives in some industries are paving the path for equitable opportunities for all populations.

This research indicates there is an all-around appreciation and awareness of DI&E issues and there exists an eager driving force for change. With the correct resources, more research, and the support of DI&E programs, the next generation of employees in the UK’s language services sector has a lot to look forward to and to gain from, within the present development and change.

About the author Natalia Cama

Natalia is a professional linguist and translator who was born and raised in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, and holds EU dual citizenship. She recently completed her MA dissertation on the topic of Diversity, Inclusion and Equality. Natalia has been a registered freelancer in Spain for thirteen years. She will receive her MA Translation Studies degree from the University of Portsmouth in July 2022.


Natalia Cama - Minority Representation and Experiences in the UK Language Services Sector for the ATC
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