The St. Louis area’s excitement was palpable when it was announced that IKEA would build a new store within the City’s Midtown / Cortex District, a center of innovation projected to bring more than 10,000 jobs to the community. In addition to providing a wide range of affordable, stylish home products, IKEA’s presence created more than 300 jobs needed to support store operations.
Immediately, the public wanted to know when and how the hiring process would be conducted. In the absence of local HR personronel, IKEA worked closely with SLATE to recruit City residents, working out a hiring process that would ensure equality of access and opportunity.
In all communities in which it operates, IKEA is dedicated to the principle of inclusiveness. Ken Riddick, SLATE’s Business Representative who helped IKEA with outreach, described IKEA’s approach: “It doesn’t matter if they [customers] are rich, poor, white, black, Muslim or Christians – this is who IKEA is as a store. They wanted to bring in [everyone in the] community,” Riddick said.
With SLATE’s help, IKEA was able to reach out to not only people who knew them and loved their products, but those who were eager to apply for jobs. “Through us, IKEA broadened their recruitment outreach, attracting people who brought their family and friends with them to shop there,” said Riddick.
The two organizations hosted four info sessions throughout central St. Louis City, making a special effort to reach the Latino community. IKEA was also one of the largest employers present at a series of jobseeker events within unprivileged African-American communities in North St. Louis, notably the Ferguson 1000 Job Fair. The overall outreach effort was successful, with residents of every one of the City of St. Louis’ 28 Aldermanic Wards participating in IKEA’s hiring.
Riddick said that such unprecedented outreach was unique for St. Louis and couldn’t have been achieved without IKEA working alongside a public workforce agency like SLATE.
“Without SLATE involvement, IKEA would have still successfully filled open positions with quality candidates, but they may not have represented the St. Louis community at large,” Riddick said.
SLATE was able to identify candidates who weren’t familiar with how to apply online on IKEA’s website, and many more didn’t have appropriate resumes or cover letters.
SLATE was able to prepare hundreds of interested applicants for IKEA job opportunities. On the IKEA side, every application that came from SLATE consisted of all the elements they needed to quickly identify the best people for a job.
SLATE hosted interview days at our downtown American Job Center. Riddick said that readiness to help IKEA fulfill its vision in the community, friendliness and comfort of being around people, interacting and patiently serving them – those were qualities of the candidates who ultimately got hired. Most of IKEA’s 335 jobs didn’t require education higher that a High School Diploma.
By bringing quality products and stellar service to the heart of the City of St. Louis, IKEA has had a far-reaching economic impact. “If it wasn’t for IKEA, people from hundreds of miles away wouldn’t have come here. The store has become a destination point, an entertainment, attracting people to come to shop here. It’s transformational from that standpoint because it’s bigger than just a little patch of a 15 mile radius where you put a retail store. Their presence in St. Louis has been phenomenal,” said Riddick.
Joseph Roth, Public Affairs Manager for IKEA, recently expressed his gratitude for SLATE’s help recruiting coworkers entrusted with introducing St. Louisans to the unique IKEA shopping experience.
“Our partnership with SLATE definitely helped ensure we hired coworkers that could create a welcoming environment for all our customers,” Roth said.
The positive results have spurred IKEA to consider replicating its impactful partnership with the St. Louis City public workforce development system in cooperation with planned locations in urban areas, such as the upcoming one in Memphis, TN.