You’re Speaking My Language – at Home Depot

At The Home Depot, associates communicate in 23 languages, including Cantonese, Greek and American Sign Language (24 if you count home improvement). As a reflection of the community, it’s not surprising that out of 400,000 associates, over 95,000 speak more than one language.   

On every orange apron across every store, associates wear their language skills like a badge. Literally. For instance, if an associate speaks Urdu, that associate wears a badge that says, “I Speak Urdu.” “The badges make it easier for customers to feel comfortable asking for help,” says Nargis Ramasami, district HR manager in Broward County, FL. 

The badges don’t just make it easier to help customers, they make it easier for associates to help each other. “I have an associate who is deaf and in one of our meetings, I noticed another associate communicating with him through sign language,” says Ramasami. Although the deaf associate could read lips, reading signs is easier, and this associate wanted to help. At The Home Depot, over 5,000 associates use American Sign Language.   

“When you hire associates who speak the community’s languages, it sends the message, ‘Oh, I’m welcome here,” reflects Daria Perez, Regional HR Director, South Florida. 

Broward County, Florida has the honor of being one of the most diverse districts, with 36 percent of its associates being female and 87 percent minority. In one of the store’s break rooms, there’s a map covered in pins that represents the countries that influence the associates. “They’re proud to have a store that reflects the world,” Daria says.   

Nargis describes her region as a melting pot. “We have Caribbean people from Trinidad, Barbados, Dominica, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Hispanic people and Canadian snowbirds! They speak everything from Spanish to French Creole to Portuguese. So, it’s pretty diverse.” Nargis staffs her stores as often as possible with associates who know how to speak the communities’ languages.  

“They help us strengthen our connection with the community,” Nargis reflects of her multilingual associates. This is just one of the many ways The Home Depot is committed to enhancing the business by embracing differences.  

as first published on’re-speaking-my-language

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