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Mar 27, 2020

Interpretek Builds Ethical Culture Through Hard Work

Michael Rizzolo, another finalist, is also looking forward to the upcoming gala, where he can, “be with people who seem to embrace value and want to celebrate” ethical behavior in the workplace.
For the president and CEO of Interpretek, the ability to practice sound ethics doesn’t stem from a book or from specific written criteria, but through continued, day-to-day experience.

“It’s just more interpersonal; it happens by doing.”

Interpretek first began in 1993, after Rizzolo had spent 12 years as a manager of Interpreting Services for Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf.

“We started with: Send the best interpreter available and pay them on time, and something simple like that rang true with the consumers.”

Now with six offices in five states, Rizzolo is looking forward to celebrating the company’s 25th anniversary, with the Ethie nomination providing an excellent promotional opportunity. Even if they don’t win this year, he views the company ending up on the Ethie shortlist “as having already won.”

“We take away the affirmation that we’ve done well, that we’re doing the right thing. But I don’t think we’re done. The market keeps changing, the needs keep changing; we need to keep changing.”

When it comes to ethical behavior for Rizzolo, the first priority is to his employees. While he places a high value on providing cutting edge services to his customers and clients who require ASL interpreters, he also values a workplace where employees can approach him regarding a potential problem or mistake without worrying about retribution.

“You can’t really make a mistake that’s going to get you fired. That’s silly. If you make a mistake, I want you to learn from it, and then you’re going to be better the next day.”

There’s also a desire for maintaining a strong, effective relationship with the interpreters he hires, since many are independent contractors.

“I hire them, I want the best from them, they want the best from me. It’s a wonderful, mutual relationship. One can’t survive without the other, so you want to maximize it, not minimize it.”

Interpretek also tries to match up interpreters with the situation they are needed for, especially if there’s a requirement for specialized knowledge.

“So, when a request comes in, we don’t just say, ‘who’s available?’ We try to match up. So if it’s a medical request, does this person have medical training and background? If it’s a legal request, can they survive in a courtroom?”

For Rizzolo, the idea is be upfront conducting business, allowing Interpretek to cultivate a strong relationship with the community.

“It’s nice to garner good will from having done the right thing, being ethical,” he says, whether the company is working with employees, contractors or customers.