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Multilingual Manchester

A recent project concluded by Multilingual Manchester ( has identified more than 50 languages on signage throughout the city.  This signage included everything from business signs to posters and leaflets.  The most common languages other than English were Urdu, Chinese, Arabic and Polish.

The diversity of the languages in Manchester is just a sampling of the diversity in the United Kingdom.  Signs in multiple languages popped up not just at retail establishments but public services, and even on public buildings themselves.

This diversity of language in everyday life points to ever-growing diversity in workplaces around the UK.  Organisations are take inclusivity and diversity policies from the basic “sensitivity training” to the next level: integrating it into their organisational culture and practices (

However, this is just one piece of the multilingual workforce puzzle.  This organisational culture must be communicated to employees, and in order to preserve the diversity of today’s workforce, language services must be integrated.  Here’s how:

From the Beginning
The first step is identifying the languages in which you need information translated.  Your organization likely will not need 51 different translations, but it could be close.  If English is the second language of any employee, an organisation should provide translation services of important information for that employee.
One of the benefits of incorporating translation services ( into an organisation is the improved communication.  Nothing gets lost in an employee’s own interpretation.  This is important when drafting policies such as new human resources policies and especially diversity policies.  It also removes the burden of translation from the shoulders of multilingual employees.

To the Roll-Out
Once it’s time to communicate information to employees, there are a variety of ways to do so.  The most common, of course, is the ubiquitous email.  Yet again, without language services in place, this can leave some employees in the dark about what’s being shared.  This lost in translation phenomenon ( is most prevalent in written communications that include sarcasm and colloquialisms.

It is more difficult for organisations to offer translations and interpretations of emails.  That’s more emails than servers can manage, let alone a language services provider.  Instead, communications strategies can be combined with translation strategies to equip employees with the necessary information and tools.
Visual communications are beneficial to any workplace ( because they can be customized for individual audiences.  This allows an organisation to transmit information in multiple languages, tailoring each broadcast for a different language audience.  Targeted communications are going to lead to more engaged employees.

Additionally, investing in language services to foster diversity can make your organisational culture inviting, one of the many things that attracts new talent (  It will also attract new customers and clients and continue to engage the ones you already have.  If you haven’t integrated language services yet, now’s the time.

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