Alumni: Diana Saillant ’06
Diana Saillant is CEO of Saillant Language Consulting which offers the Healthcare Interpreter Training course at CSU. Three cohorts have completed the course, and many participants have gone on to complete national certification. Diana is the founder and president of the Hispanic Business Association of Charleston. She has three daughters, five grandchildren, and is happily married.
Creating Saillant Language Consulting
I always wanted to own a business. During my MBA capstone course we had to create a business plan. I thought, “Why not create it on something that I may do in the future?” Since I already had years of experience as an ESOL instructor, I decided on the name Saillant Language Learning. The company started offering ESOL and Spanish language instruction. Soon after, organizations began requesting cross-cultural training.
Years later, I pursued my Healthcare Interpreter Certification. There was a 40-hour prep course requirement. Unfortunately, the nearest class was in Greenville. Once completed, I promised myself that I would find a way to bring the program to Charleston. Upon obtaining my national certification, I contacted the company that offered the class and convinced them to train me to instruct the course.
I wanted to give my alma mater the privilege of becoming the first to offer this opportunity to the community. The training is now part of CSU’s catalog.
According to the Department of Labor, interpreters and translators’ employment will continue to grow by about 29%. I am grateful for the partnership between CSU and Saillant Language Consulting to serve and create opportunities for the increasing non-English speaking community.
Addressing Cross-Cultural Needs in Companies
Organizations must seek leaders who lead by example. Are they focusing on the obligation to comply or because it is the right thing to do? How is leadership getting behind diversity and inclusion? Do they have the right resources? Do they have a vision of what the organization will look like once the needs are met? Have they created a well-thought-out plan and the metrics to assess its progress?
Relationship-building is at the core of addressing cross-cultural needs. Servant leadership goes a long way. Creating an environment where individuals feel safe and confident about asking any question is critical.
Fostering relationships requires trust, and building trust demands time. Companies need to understand that it may take some time before noticing any progress. The good news is that, although change may go undetected, a cultural transformation is slowly taking place.
Fallacies about the Necessity of Cross-Cultural Training
One of the biggest fallacies is that a yearly workshop will take care of an organization’s cross-cultural needs. A mandatory class does not do it. You can’t build relationships by going to training once or twice a year. What happens after the training? Are there action steps to be taken? Are employees being held accountable? Are relationships continuing to grow? How is leadership tracking progress?
Organizations must find ways to foster genuine interest among employees of diverse cultures. Companies must understand that properly addressing cross-cultural needs takes time, effort, and money. The question organizations should be asking is “How can we, or who can help us, provide avenues in which our multicultural employees can build relationships with each other?”
It may sound cliché, but as humans, we have more similarities than differences. We’ve heard it time and again, Thoughts lead to feelings. Feelings lead to actions. Knowledge (in the head) leads to feelings (in the heart), which then generates the wisdom to act. As the wisest man that ever lived succinctly put it, “Wisdom is before him that hath understanding” (Proverbs 17:24).
Wisdom is the ultimate goal. However, before wisdom, we need understanding, and understanding requires desire. The missing link is understanding. The average person can come to better understand those from other cultures by desiring to understand different cultures.
Biggest Challenges as a Business Woman
During the first few years in business, it was not easy to get people to pay attention to what I offered. It was not until I understood the profoundness of St. Francis of Assisi’s words, “It is through giving that we receive” that things began shifting. I started volunteering on targeted boards of directors and founded the Hispanic Business Association. I gave, gave, and then gave.
Staying Current in a Rapidly Changing Business World
Be flexible. Constantly innovate while thinking outside of the box. Listen to what is going on and what people are saying. Listening to what’s going on not only helps you recognize a need; it sometimes creates one.
Keep in mind that out of every misfortune, a need is born. COVID-19 has created many new opportunities for entrepreneurs and business owners.
Do your homework. Research your target market. What are your client’s three major problems? How can you solve them? Be ready and pitch your deal thoroughly and succinctly.
Favorite Part of Being a Business Leader?
Enabling others to discover their uniqueness and achieve what they thought was impossible is my favorite part. People often tell me how much they’ve always wanted to own a business, not realizing that they can do it. Sometimes, just pointing them in the right direction or making them aware of their resources takes them to the next level.