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How Clorox’s Costa Rica Plant Embraces Inclusion With Sign Language Education

How Clorox’s Costa Rica Plant Embraces Inclusion With Sign Language Education

Published 05-17-24

Submitted by The Clorox Company

In our manufacturing plant in San José, Costa Rica, a quiet shift in best practices is taking place — one that speaks to the power of inclusion in the workplace. At the center of this transformation are Jorge Hernãndez, a packaging plant auxiliary with a hearing disability, and his coworkers and management team committed to ensuring his full participation.

For Jorge, navigating the fast-paced environment of the manufacturing floor presented unique challenges. Despite 12 years of skilled experience working at Clorox, the communication barrier occasionally left him feeling isolated.

Recognizing the need for change, members of the plant’s management team saw an opportunity to bring more inclusive practices to their everyday operations. They understood that true success lies not only in the products they manufacture but in the strength of their workforce. And so, they made the decision to invest in ways that would make their people feel more empowered.

Jorge speaking with sign language to three other employees.

The first step was clear: provide sign language training for Jorge’s coworkers. What started four years ago as brief, informal training for teammates on Costa Rican Sign Language has evolved into a more formal training program with Enseñas Costa Rica, an organization that specializes in corporate education for communicating with the deaf community. Inspired by Clorox’s renewed commitment to inclusion, diversity, equity and allyship, or IDEA, this initiative had a powerful impact throughout the plant. Teammates embraced the opportunity to learn sign language, not just as a means of communication but as a tool for fostering understanding and connection with each other. The plant also enlisted the services of a sign language interpreter for large team meetings, on-the-job training sessions, performance evaluations and company social activities.

“We saw IDEA as a call to action to embrace the unique perspectives and needs of all our teammates, regardless of disability, gender, or age. Making sign language more accessible to our workforce is one way we’re fostering an environment where all voices are heard, and everyone can thrive.”

Mauricio Guerrero Canet, Plant Manager

Jorge holding an award next to another person.

For Jorge, the transformation was profound. Communication barriers that once seemed insurmountable were replaced by a sense of belonging.

“I feel very proud to work for Clorox. My teammates’ willingness to learn sign language has made me feel supported, accepted and better able to do my job.”

Jorge Hernãndez, Packaging Plant Auxiliary

The journey of our San José plant toward greater day-to-day inclusion reflects the impact that empathy can have in our workplaces and communities. By championing the unique abilities of every individual, we not only enrich the lives of those around us but pave the way for a brighter future for all.

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The Clorox Company

The Clorox Company

The Clorox Company has long been committed to purpose-driven growth. We believe our purpose is clear: to champion people to be well and thrive every single day.

Our allegiance to this shared aspiration guides and inspires our company to act with swiftness and confidence toward a more socially and environmentally sustainable future. With an ambition to mobilize all of our people and brands, we strive to act as a force for positive, lasting change in three key areas: 

  • Healthy lives: Improving people’s health and well-being.
  • Clean world: Taking climate action and reducing plastic and other waste.
  • Thriving communities: Investing in our people and communities to contribute to a more equitable world.

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