We’re Translator and we’re here to change the world.
There are lots of startups that aim to do that—and we respect the hell out of all of them—but our approach is a different one. We want to save lives by helping people understand each other.
It’s an idea both simple and impossible; kind of like the age-old, “Can’t we all just get along?”
It’s a question that has had us thinking these last few months, as we’ve seen company after company struggle with crises that, at their very core, are crises of culture. A Google employee’s now-infamous anti-diversity “manifesto.” A female engineer’s horrific experience with sexual harassment at Uber. Multiple lawsuits at Fox News. And this is just from the past year.
What’s becoming more and more apparent to us and to the people we work with is that these companies—and the people who work for them—don’t know what to do when these things happen. Thought piece after thought piece has examined Google’s response to the James Damore’s memo. Some of the questions we’ve seen asked were: Were they right to fire him? Should they have waited? Is this an infringement on free speech?
What we haven’t seen people address is why this happened. Why did a highly-educated employee at one of the world’s best companies feel so angry that he took it upon himself to write about women’s lack of technical ability for a full 10 pages? Nor have we seen people ask a crucial how: How do we prevent this from happening?
Those are the two questions we’re here to help companies answer.
We’re not here to preach about diversity and why it’s important. At this point, the research is in: we know that diversity directly impacts the bottom line. The more diverse a company, the more successful it is. Our focus, rather, is on helping people who work in diverse environments understand each other’s points of view; to give them the tools and language they need to develop self-awareness, empathy, and trust—and to not bottle up their feelings of anger or resentment until they pour out in manifesto form, or worse, as harassment and violence.
What we’re doing, in a nutshell, is saving lives. We’re helping people bring their most authentic selves to work, and in doing so, helping them be happier, more engaged, better employees—and better people.
Our CEO, Natalie, is a transgender woman who came out after decades as a male tech entrepreneur. While being trans comes with its own set of challenges, what really struck her—and what was the seed for what later blossomed into Translator—is that the feeling of otherness that she had been feeling her entire life wasn’t a feeling that was unique to her. No matter your race, gender, sexual orientation, or religion, you have undoubtedly felt like an outsider. You’ve also definitely treated someone else like an outsider, whether or not you meant to.
We believe that we don’t have to feel that way, and we’re developing tools to change the status quo. Think of it as a diversity training that doesn’t suck.
The first tool we’ve built is a mobile app that helps people understand identity, both theirs and others’. We help them train their empathy muscles like any good personal trainer would: with an arsenal of challenging, but fun exercises that help them get better over time. (It’s also worth mentioning that we’re developing proprietary VR tech to do that, but more on that later.)
In September, we’re launching our second product: A chatbot that people can go to with all the questions and complaints they’re too embarrassed or frustrated to bring to HR. We’ll talk employees through uncomfortable work situations and help them decide on the best way to address them. It’s another way to teach employees empathy—but with case studies, if you will. As a bonus, we’ll be able to help companies recognize culture issues before they snowball into crises.
These are just a couple of examples of what we’ve managed to do in the nine months that we’ve been around; we plan to do much, much more. We’re a young company, but we’re growing fast as more and more companies see the business case for being proactive about diversity.
If you’re one of those companies, or if you just have a question for us, feel free to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Let’s save lives together.