More stores hiring employees to
help Hispanic patrons
Feb. 27, 2005
Harry R. Webber
ATLANTA - Tucked inside the aprons of cashiers at a Home Depot store in the
Miami area are translation books to help employees who speak only English to
converse with customers who speak only Spanish.
Home Depot might not need the books quite as much in the future, as the nation's
largest home improvement store chain has joined retailers including Wal-Mart
Stores Inc. and Federated Department Stores Inc. in actively recruiting
Retailers are looking to Spanish-speaking employees to help them tap into the
increasing buying power of Hispanics. They note that studies have shown that
Hispanics will have $1 trillion in annual purchasing power in the United States
by 2008; by 2050, Hispanics will constitute 25 percent of the workforce.
Wal-Mart has increased its efforts to recruit Hispanics in recent years. At the
end of 2004, the company had 128,000 Hispanic employees in the United States, or
about 10 percent of its 1.2 million workers.
"Because we have a very diverse customer base, we certainly believe our
associate base should mirror that as closely as possible," spokeswoman Linda
Blakley said. "By doing so, we gain insight into the needs and product
preferences of this segment of our customer base and are able to deliver
stronger customer service."
Earlier this month, Home Depot, the Atlanta-based chain of 1,890 stores, said it
would partner with four national Hispanic organizations to recruit more
Spanish-speaking workers for its workforce of 325,000.
Hispanic advocacy groups and economists say the efforts not only make retailers
more diverse, but also can help boost sales by appealing more to Hispanic
Major retailers realize that some Hispanic customers might become frustrated and
leave a store if they can't communicate in Spanish with employees, said Barbara
Serret, a Hispanic human resources manager at a Home Depot in the Miami area.