October 18, 2023
Over 19 million adults in the US have limited English proficiency, the majority of whom are Spanish speakers facing ongoing and significant barriers to employment. We know that adults with English proficiency experience higher earnings outcomes, and yet, language learning resources remain inaccessible and unaffordable for many. We’re changing that at Gap Inc.
Our Customer Experience Centers (CECs) are innovation engines for the business—not only for their industry-leading technology and automation, but also their appetite to imagine better when it comes to hiring and developing talent. Our CECs are located in communities throughout North America that are home to growing populations of immigrants and refugees from all over the world. At Gap Inc., we know that building a best-in-class workforce means our employees should reflect our local communities. That’s why our Groveport, OH CEC has been hiring refugees primarily from Africa and the Middle East for over 15 years, and why our Fishkill, NY CEC launched an ESL Hiring Pilot in 2021. What started as inclusive hiring efforts have now evolved into a scaled program that offers ongoing support for English Language Learners in our Gap Inc. family.
Through CEC Opportunity Hiring programming, we’ve adapted hiring, onboarding and training practices to better accommodate employees who are learning English, including document translation, connection to bilingual supervisors, and partnerships with local organizations that support immigrant and refugee populations. Furthermore, some English-speaking supervisors have chosen to use program resources to learn Spanish, strengthening communication and connection with those on their team.
We’re committed to doing the right thing by the communities we operate in and serve—this program is a great example of that. And it’s not done! An English upskilling pilot was recently launched in our Fishkill and Groveport campuses this year, and we’ll continue to find new ways to support our people in this way.
Hear from a few of our employees on what it means to them to gain access to English language learning while working on our teams.
DAVID CRUZADO, ACTING MAINTENANCE SUPERVISOR & ALEXANDER CRUZADO, MAINTENANCE TECHNICIAN III, FISHKILL, NY
“We were doing electrical and mechanical engineering back in Peru, but here we had to start learning English from zero. I had been at Gap, Inc. for about 8 months when I told my brother he should come work here too. Gap Inc. gives us the support we need to learn English and to have knowledge about our skills and duties. It hasn’t been that long, and I can already see a significant difference from using the [English language learning] app and taking the class. Both my brother and I are improving our skills as electricians and learning English. It’s hard, but like all things in life, you just have to try it!”
ROSS DOMBROWSKI, OPERATIONS SUPERVISOR, FISHKILL, NY
“I had a lot of experience in operations but was new to the business. During my first meeting there were so many acronyms flying around, I felt like everyone was speaking another language. They told me that slowly but surely it would all make sense, and that was true, but as I began to realize how many of our employees spoke Spanish, I recognized there was a huge barrier to overcome. These were some of the hardest working people I had ever met, but I couldn’t have a dialogue with them. Depending on other bi-lingual staff just wasn’t enough for me. A few people kept asking me, “What would make your life easier?” and I just kept answering, “If I could learn Spanish.” Many of our employees come from a background where they might be qualified for a supervisor or management position. Language shouldn’t be the thing holding them back—I want Gap Inc. to be the final stop on their career path. When my family hears me speaking Spanish, I proudly say, ‘I got that from work.’"
NATALIIA BORZHKIVSKA, MERCHANDISE HANDLER, GROVEPORT, OH
“I came here three years ago from Ukraine. In Kiev, I was an electrical engineer – I love math, I love graphs. I managed documents and repaired hydraulic stations. Here I am working more simple jobs because I’m still learning the language. I need to speak English for work, but I also need to be able to help my kids with their homework, to write without mistakes. I’m noticing I’m a little more confident speaking with my coworkers now. It feels comforting here, if I can move up another level at Gap, I will be very happy.”
VOJKICA SPIROSKA, ACTING SUPERVISOR, GROVEPORT, OH
“I’m from Macedonia. My past job was as a market manager, I had 20 people reporting to me. The US was our dream country. When we got our green card, my husband and I packed up our two children and came. I applied to Gap because my friend worked here. It was my first job in the US. I’ve stayed because my supervisor and manager were so focused on helping all their employees. Now I’ve been with Gap for five years. I took 6-months of English classes when I arrived, but it was $50 per lesson. I was depending on my kids and my husband to help me communicate, then one of my supervisors told me there were free English classes at work -- no cost to employees. You have to learn English to find better jobs and do better in the US, but I want to do better here, at Gap Inc. I want to stay for a long time. I was scared when I got here but look where I am now.”
Learn more and apply today to a career opportunity at a Gap Inc. Customer Experience Center!
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