Kennett electric company helping address language barrier with customers

Published: May. 2, 2023 at 11:42 PM CDT|Updated: May. 3, 2023 at 12:01 PM CDT
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KENNETT, Mo. (KAIT) - Southeast Missouri Company is addressing its language barrier by hiring bilingual employees.

When a customer service employee at the company retired, Chief Financial Officer Cheryl Hicks, said the company tried to find someone who spoke English and Spanish.

“We just made the decision to look for someone who was bilingual that would be able to serve both customers,” she said.

According to the US Census Bureau, between Pemiscot and Dunklin County, Hispanics make up just over 10% of the population.

By comparison, Hispanics only make up 5.5% of the population in Craighead County.

The company has two Spanish speakers at its location.

One of them is Karina Morales, who is a native speaker.

“Being able to use Spanish to be able to help people much or you see that they’re struggling with the English to be able to say, “Oh, I speak your first language I speak Spanish,” you know you can be more comfortable talking to me like that,” she said.

Morales said having someone who speaks Spanish at a company helps those families who have difficulties speaking English.

She said it makes it easier for those families to communicate their needs in their native language.

Hicks said as the Hispanic populations grow elsewhere, they too could soon find the need to hire bilingual speakers.