Sustainable Translation

Selection of vegetables from a farmer's market

We all love to buy ecological vegetables from a local farmer, we sign up to local food producers’ co-operatives, and we are ready to pay more for organic and Fair Trade food. Why don’t we adopt the same approach when ordering a translation?

An average translation agency and a widely criticized multinational food corporation behave in virtually the same way. A Language Services Provider – as translation agencies often call themselves – often overcharge clients for a substandard quality translation and at the same time pay minimum rates to translators who actually do the job. The agency earns a substantial margin while the translator feels the price squeeze.

A much better solution for a potential client would be to find a translation boutique in which the translators are partners or work under a co-operative scheme. In return, the client gets:
• a high quality translation tailored to their needs,
• a personal approach, outstanding customer service,
• flexible rates, and
• strict adherence to deadlines.
The client is satisfied and at the same time, the translator directly receives the translation fee. The idea is the same as when buying Fair Trade Chocolate or T-shirts.

So next time you plan to outsource a translation assignment, look at the website of your potential language services provider. Check whether it includes the translators’ names, their CVs, shows their photos or whether it contains only a contact form, phone number and email address together with lots of marketing materials on the agency itself.

The European Commission Directorate-General for Translation (DGT) has already adopted a sustainable approach to outsourcing translation jobs to its external translation providers. It gives equal treatment to freelance translators (or groups of them) and to large translation agencies in its tender procedures for translation services to the European Commission. The DGT is one of the world’s largest translation services which works in all the official languages of the EU. Why not follow the experts in multilingualism?

I strongly encourage you to find a translation boutique specialized in your field (legal, financial, medical, marketing, IT, technical) instead of outsourcing translation to a jack-of-all-trades agency. We translators love to work for clients directly as such co-operation leads to a win-win situation where both clients and translators are satisfied.

Marta Grudzieńska-Lewandowska, founder and co-owner of