As a President and CEO of Comms Multilingual, I was one of the presenters at a workshop at the I.C.E. Exchange conference entitled “Diversity and Inclusion throughout the Test Development Lifecycle and Candidate Journey”. The conference took place in Savannah, Georgia, in October 2022. During the workshop, we talked about ways to improve the test development lifecycle and the candidate journey by ensuring that DEI principles were put into practice at every step of the way. I talked about the history of DEI and the progress that has been made, whilst noting that there is still a lot that can be improved, especially when it comes to equality or parity in terms of wages. I also covered DEI from the language perspective. So how does translation and localis(z)ation follow the principles of DEI to avoid results being skewed?
Diversity Making your certifications, assessments and related materials available to a very diverse candidate pool with appropriate pictures, content and terminology.
Equity Ensuring fairness by having candidates take the exam or assessment in their own language.
Inclusion By translating an exam or assessment, you are creating an inclusive environment for test takers by making the certification or assessment more accessible to them.
After all, in an exam or assessment, what are you actually testing? Are you testing a candidate’s subject knowledge and understanding, or their knowledge of a second or even third language? It is very important to ensure fairness by providing the exam or test in a candidate’s native language so that the candidate doesn’t have any worries about misunderstanding things.
Comms is getting more and more requests for gender neutral text in other languages. In English, we have embraced the use of “they” as a gender-neutral pronoun. However, with some languages, this is impossible stylistically and grammatically due to the inflected nature of that language, with each noun being assigned a gender and adjective endings having to agree with those nouns. Here are some examples:
Danish: “Culturally the client is unlikely to experience any backlash from not using gender neutral terminology; using “he/she” is acceptable as the vast majority of Danes understand the limitations of the Danish language to describe people who do not wish to be assigned a gender.”
Finnish: “Finnish doesn’t have gender-specific pronouns to start with, so for us gender neutral is the norm, not the problem. We only have one 3rd person singular pronoun, and both “he” and “she” (as well as “they” when used in the gender-neutral sense) will be “hän” in Finnish.”
However, there are also cultural considerations to be taken into account when it comes to gender. In some cultures, the use of specific terminology when discussing gender is very important and it may be totally inappropriate to have certain terms used. It is therefore necessary to conduct a cultural review of an exam or assessment before the translation process is started to ensure that there is nothing offensive, inappropriate or simply not known about in the target culture.
What were the key takeaways from the I.C.E. Exchange workshop?
- There is nothing more diverse than a fully multicultural, global audience or target market
- Including DEI into your content creation creates a healthy and respectful testing environment for all candidates
- Exploring multi-modality delivery will help accommodate every candidate, no matter where they are located in the world
- Translation alone is ineffective; you need to adapt and localiz(s)e to take into account the needs of the target audience
- Offering exams, assessments and related materials in another language will help to ensure fairness for all candidates, no matter where they are located
- The aim of your certification or assessment is to test a candidate’s subject knowledge and understanding, not their command of English
- Diversity and Inclusion are not just about using images that reflect a diverse audience, but representation does matter
- Prioritiz(s)e inclusive marketing through thoughtful language, visuals, social media, and strategies to ensure you’re reaching as wide an audience as possible in a way that properly reflects your organization’s values