Goodwill, the world’s largest nonprofit organization offering career services, training and education to individuals with disadvantages, will provide lessons to employers nationwide to improve the recruitment and retention of Hispanic workers, says John Collins, senior vice president of workforce development programs for the counties of Santa Cruz, Monterey and San Luis Obispo in California.
The findings were derived from a three-year study funded by the Goizueta Foundation that took a critical look at Goodwill’s 164 facilities across the country. From this pool, the organization identified 14 facilities that excelled at reaching out and servicing Hispanics in their communities.
Though the facilities were scattered from California to Georgia, they shared five similarities in helping Hispanics in their professional aspirations. These best-practice strategies, which also can be applied by employers, are:
Employing staff that is bilingual—and if possible, bicultural. Employers should strive to hire supervisors who not only speak Spanish but also have a deep understanding of Hispanic culture. Having an understanding of the culture allows employers to be in tune with the needs of this group, Collins says. "Companies won’t be surprised when employees request two weeks off to return home for the all-important Christmas holidays."
Develop partnerships to create credibility in the Hispanic community. Some of the organizations may include Hispanic coalitions or religious venues. A company may have to tailor its strategy, depending on the specific country of origin of the Hispanic individual it is targeting. Churches play a more prominent role for Mexican immigrants than for those from other countries, such as Brazil or Argentina. Hispanic chambers of commerce are good organizations to target. "You could have the nicest, most state-of-the art establishment, but unless you are trusted in the Hispanic community, nobody will go to you," Collins says.
Providing bilingual signs, resources and other materials. Bilingual signs and other material are critical tools when it comes to recruiting because it lets Hispanics know that an employer welcomes them, regardless of their fluency in English. "It helps to put them at ease and makes them feel welcome," Collins notes.
Offer job readiness and placement assistance in Spanish. Offering training and development material in Spanish will help them do their job better and help them avoid accidents in the workplace.
Provide access to English-as-a-second-language training. Lack of fluency in English is one of the biggest hurdles Hispanics face, hampering everything from finding jobs to developing as professionals. An added bonus is that as workers improve their English skills, they’ll be able to better serve clients who don’t speak Spanish.