As the world continues to develop, the need for corporate social responsibility becomes even more important. Social problems exist whether we like it or not, so what can we do about it?
When corporations value social responsibility and make an effort to integrate social impact into their business, they can solve some of the most challenging problems that the world faces today.
A great example of combining social impact and business is the language technology company inWhatLanguage.
inWhatLanguage is a mission-driven translation and localization company. Our mission is to unify people and communities through innovative translation solutions. With that in mind, we donate 1% of our revenue to social impact initiatives. We want to make a dent for good in the world!
However, given we are a translation and localization company, we thought it made sense not to simply donate money to causes we believe in, but instead, donate our translation services. People often don’t think of translation as a critical element to improve livelihoods, but we know firsthand its powerful ability to do just that.
How we make an impact:
1. Supporting English Language Learners
There are millions of people in the United States who are learning English, as it is not their native language. They are often referred to as English Language Learners (ELLs). Both refugees and immigrants often don’t know English when they arrive in the United States. Relocating to a new country is already hard enough, but to not know the language makes life even more difficult. We want to use our translation services to help assist refugees and immigrants in the United States who are learning English. Specifically, we have focused our efforts on assisting ELLs and their parents in schools across the country.
According to an nprED report 5 million, or 1 in 10, students in the United States are ELLs. We recognized this as an opportunity to step in and provide translations for critical documents and parent-teacher communications, to empower diverse, non-English speaking students and their families with the information and resources needed to build successful lives.
Our work with the IRC and UTA has been to help refugees access and use public transportation. We helped the IRC translate important information for refugees about how to use the transit system. It is very difficult to try to navigate a public transit system in a language other than your native language. We plan to continue to support these two organizations when it comes to making public transit more accessible to ELLs.
With the United Way of Salt Lake and Granite School District, we have conducted similar work. Given there are a large number of refugees and ELLs in general at Salt Lake City schools, we have translated critical documents and parent-teacher communications. Many of these are traditional school documents, but some of them have included information sent home to parents about vision screenings and medical services available to whole families for free. Translation plays a critical role in ensuring that these students get the education they deserve and that families get the social services they need.
In addition, to these main partners, we carry out a grant program for schools and educational organizations across the United States. These organizations are able to submit applications explaining their needs in order to support ELLs and then we award them grants in the form of translation value. Again, giving in the form of our services as opposed to simply giving money is at the core of our social impact.
2. Assisting Disaster and Crisis-Affected Communities
According to a Relief Web report, 569 million people are affected by disasters every year. Overcoming language and cultural barriers is one of the most vital and often overlooked factors in disaster and crisis situations around the world. These crises present significant challenges for coordination and communication between the different responders on how to provide the most effective relief strategy. When earthquakes, hurricanes, and deadly disease outbreaks occur, it is imperative that accurate and timely translations are conducted to enhance communication between responders and subsequently the effectiveness of the crises response.
inWhatLanguage has partnered with and carried out a number of translation projects for the World Health Organization (WHO) at no cost. More specifically, the WHO’s – Health Emergencies Program, where inWhatLanguage helped translate training modules for OpenWHO. OpenWHO is an instructional platform that allows the WHO and its key partners to transfer life-saving knowledge to a large number of frontline responders during natural epidemics, pandemics and health emergencies. inWhatLangauge has provided a number of services for the WHO, including translating instructional material about how to manage Cholera outbreaks and Influenza into a number of different languages.
3. Fostering International Trade and Diplomacy
Given inWhatLanguage’s mission is to unify people and communities through innovative translation solutions, we think it only makes sense to commit to utilizing our social impact initiatives to help foster international trade and diplomacy. Fostering international trade and diplomacy helps to connect people all around the world and bridge cultural divides. When economies are connected, people are connected (or united).
In order to foster international trade and diplomacy, inWhatLanguage has worked with a number of different partners. inWhatLangauge has provided in-kind translation of materials for the World Trade Center of Utah and CHOICE Humanitarian.
The World Trade Center (WTC) of Utah’s mission is to promote prosperity across the state by attracting investment and increasing exports. The WTC of Utah frequently carries out international trade missions for members of the Utah business community to help them expand into global markets. We have assisted translating materials for the WTC of Utah that provide business leaders in other countries information about Utah’s business community and Utah’s economy. These materials help foreign business leaders gain a better understanding of the State, helping to encourage them to do business with Utah companies and consumers, in turn increasing international trade and diplomacy.
For example, in October of 2018, the WTC of Utah conducted a seven-day trade mission to connect Utah Companies to Middle Eastern Markets. The trade mission led by Gov. Gary R Herbert took 19 Utah companies (including inWhatLanguage) to Amman, Jordan and Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, Israel. We translated the materials highlighting why business leaders in those locations should engage in business with Utah companies and consumers into Arabic and Hebrew.
CHOICE Humanitarian is a non-governmental organization (NGO) based in Salt Lake City, Utah that focuses on improving the quality of life for people around the world. CHOICE provides assistance through the establishment of programs for better health and education, the eradication of extreme poverty and the strengthening of family and community efforts to learn valuable skills. CHOICE works around the world in Ecuador, Bolivia, Guatemala, Perú, México, Kenya, and Nepal.
We have helped Choice Humanitarian translate documents for an important initiative.
A small banana cooperative in Peru had done all of the work to be in compliance with organic, fair trade and Global GAP certifications but didn’t have the funds to pay for the certification itself. CHOICE is providing loan capital for them to pay for the certifications that will increase the value-per-box of bananas from $6.50 to $13 US, literally doubling their income. Not only will this increase the banana cooperative’s income, but it will allow the banana cooperative to expand into global markets.
To get this process started, CHOICE required the translation of the banana cooperative’s application along with the contract between CHOICE and the banana cooperative. In addition, CHOICE will start working with them on a soil restoration program to revive the soils and increase their production levels 100-200%. We consider this a great success, as our translations directly fostered international trade.
4. Engaging and Supporting Our Linguist Network
Our newest social impact pillar is engaging and supporting our linguist community. Our hundreds of linguists are crucial to our success as an organization. Without them, we would not exist. We truly value their contributions and want to give back. Not only do we want to give back to them, but we also realize their unique opportunity they have to do good in their own communities. With that in mind, we provide a micro-grant program for our linguists. The micro-grant program gives our linguists an opportunity to apply for micro-grants to be used to improve their communities all over the world. For example, linguists can be awarded the micro-grants for teaching English in their communities, mentoring youth, improving health outcomes, improving the environment, or identifying needs in their communities that are not formally listed in our micro-grant program but are equally important. A big component of their projects is documenting the amazing work they are doing in their communities. We love receiving pictures and videos highlighting their awesome work to make the world a better place.
In addition to our grant program, we make a point of assisting our linguists when they are experiencing challenges in their lives. When natural disasters occur around the world we make a point of reaching out to our linguists to make sure that they are doing ok and if there is any way we can assist them. For example, when Hurricane Harvey hit Houston, Texas in September 2017, one of our linguist’s daycare business was badly damaged. She lost most of her educational supplies and toys that were in the daycare. We found this out when we reached out to our linguists around the world after a string of natural disasters globally. As a company, we got together and collected educational supplies and toys to donate to the linguist so that she could get her daycare back up and running. We are committed to our linguists and constantly looking for ways to support them.
We are on a mission to unify people and communities through innovative translation solutions. By donating 1% of our revenue to social impact initiatives we are trying to make a dent of good in the world.