A lawsuit against Target has brought to light an employee training document –“Organization Effectiveness, Employee and Labor Relations Multi-Cultural Tips” — that offers advice to managers who work with Hispanics. According to court documents, Target was thoughtful enough to remind those in charge that:
a. Food: not everyone eats tacos and burritos;
b. Music: not everyone dances to salsa;
c. Dress: not everyone wears a sombrero;
d. Mexicans (lower education level, some may be undocumented);
e. Cubans (Political refugees, legal status, higher education level); and
f. They may say ‘OK, OK’ and pretend to understand, when they do not, just to save face.
Three former employees — Robert Gonzalez, Bulmaro Fabian and Pedro Garcia-Ayala — are suing the retailer, alleging that their bosses used slurs when speaking to Hispanic workers. (The lawsuit was filed in Yolo County, CA.) Moreover, Gonzalez says supervisors acted against him when he complained. All three were fired.
A statement appearing on The Atlantic Wire says:
The content of the document referenced is not representative of who Target is. We strive at all times to be a place where our team and guests feel welcome, valued and respected. This document, which was used during conversations at one distribution center, was never part of any formal or company-wide training. We take accountability for its contents and are truly sorry.
It’s certifiably insane that any sentient person thought this was in any way all right. More than that, it speaks to organizational deficiency at Target that even one piece of the company could get away with passing out this trash. It’s a lesson: When even one smidgen of your organization is infected with negativity, it has implications for the organization as a whole.
At a time when companies are realizing the buying power of Hispanic consumers (and multicultural shoppers in general), alienating an entire group of people isn’t the way you want to go. Might we suggest that Target enlist some outside help with the sensitivity training manual they’re no doubt working on right now.