CEO recommends that other CEO's read The Grapes of Wrath and value the potential of immigrant workers.
" The Grapes of Wrath is about people like my parents, who were Okies. My father was a Dust Bowl worker who migrated from Stillwater, Okla., to California and was mistreated. The book makes you realize that a lot of human potential is overlooked because of prejudice against other cultures. It influenced the way I manage my employees.
"I now have 60 Asian immigrants working in my jewelry-design and -manufacturing business. Like the Okies in The Grapes of Wrath, the Asian refugees had to give up everything to get here, and have found that it is not the promised land.
"To help the Asian workers adjust, we offer weekly English lessons. And we have ESL lunches, at which everyone brings in a native food and we phonetically spell out the English word for it on each dish.
"The American-born managers here might not think to invite the Asian supervisors to a seminar or a rep retreat, because they figure the Asians won't understand anyone or get anything out of it. I always invite them even if they can't communicate very well. They're so enthusiastic that in the end I think they end up learning more than anyone else."