7 Things to Consider When Translating Ethics & Compliance Documents

Published on October 25th, 2022

ethics compliance

One of the most important roles of a company’s internal legal department is to promote the organisation’s compliance with laws and regulations. To help prevent illegal activity by the company or any of its employees, legal teams publish a range of ethics and compliance documents to declare the organisation’s stance on key issues – and have systems in place to deal with any breaches. For international companies, this documentation requires careful translation to not only maintain consistency, but also address any changes required for specific language markets. In this article, we look at the most important things companies need to consider when translating ethics & compliance documents.

What is ethics & compliance document translation?

Ethics and compliance document translation helps companies to translate all documentation and content related to their ethics and compliance program into multiple languages.

An ethics and compliance program consists of organisational policies that build a framework for promoting law abiding and ethical conduct.

By carefully setting out ethics and compliance guidelines, companies can clarify their systems for acting lawfully (and ethically), including declarations that are crucial for separating the legal position of the company itself from any individuals who may act outside of these guidelines.

Depending on the nature, size and structure of an organisation, this can involve guidelines for a variety of functions:

  • Code of conduct
  • Governance
  • Local tax compliance
  • Fraud prevention
  • Hiring policy
  • Employment guidelines
  • Employee conduct
  • Workplace harassment prevention
  • Disciplinary procedures
  • Training and education programs
  • Conflicts of interest
  • Sustainability policies
  • Green policies
  • Consumer protection guidelines

For most organisations, the majority of this documentation is for internal use but companies also need to publish a significant amount of ethics and compliance documents publicly. It is also important to consider the documentation and communications required when pledges or codes of conduct are broken.

For international companies, all this documentation requires translating into the native language of all internal and external parties.

Things to consider when translating ethics & compliance documents

As a highly specialised field of content translation, translating ethics & compliance documents for multiple languages raises some challenges. To make sure your documents are suitable for every market and audience, here are some key things to consider:

  1. Clarity: Ethics and compliance documents must be clear, concise and easy to understand for every language audience.
  2. Authenticity: This is particularly important for any publicly visible documentation – use a conversational (not corporate) tone and language, making sure all of necessary pledges are genuine.
  3. Local regulations: It is important to consider how any local regulations may affect your ethics and compliance pledges (e.g. are you expected to do more or are you overselling something you’re legally obliged to do anyway?).
  4. Local expectations: You should also consider the expectations of staff, consumers and all relevant parties in each market and whether you need to adapt any of your pledges.
  5. Adherence: It is essential to be aware that adhering to your code of ethics and compliance may be more challenging in some markets than others. In addition to this, you need to familiarise yourself with the challenges you could face in each market.
  6. Achievability: Failing to live up to your own code of ethics and compliance can turn into a PR disaster so make sure you are well-prepared for such potential challenges in every market.
  7. Accountability: Every business experiences issues with ethics and compliance at some point (probably multiple), but the system that’s in place to hold parties accountable and manage public relations is even more important than the documentation itself.

On the topic of accountability, it is crucial to have all of the necessary documentation in place and translated for each language – this much should be obvious. However, the accountability process extends beyond internal systems into the public eye, with: statements, press releases, social media posts and a variety of other communications.

Striking the right tone is vital in these instances but it is also important to respond quickly so you can minimise the negative impact upon brand image, shareholder confidence and stock prices.

Moreover, when translating these responses into other languages, speed and accuracy are equally important.

Also Read: 4 Perfect Steps to Translate Your Documents

Always work with trusted ethics and compliance document translators

As with any form of legal content translation, companies should always work with professional translators and translation agencies with this type of expertise when translating ethics & compliance documents. The potential implications of any translation mistake in this content type are too serious for cutting any corners. Having experts on your side, with proven experience in handling this type of documentation, is your best bet to success.

If you need help translating your ethics & compliance documents, call us on +44 (0)20 7324 0950 or submit your request via this form to ask for a quote.

Posted on: October 25th, 2022