VILLA is no stranger to engaging opportunity youth. Since its inception 27 years ago, this fashion retailer has emphasized hiring young men and women directly from neighborhoods where their stores operate. This is more than a way of doing business; it is part of a movement to revitalize the urban communities where they operate by developing, supporting, and delivering opportunities that provide educational support, environmental improvement, and economic empowerment for teens.
Partnerships with CBOs: VILLA builds partnerships with local youth development organizations in order to build their talent pipeline and stay connected to their community and customers. For example, in New York, VILLA partners with Rochester Works, which places youth (ages 18 to 24) in VILLA stores for 120 paid working hours over the course of a year with the hope that youth will secure permanent employment at the end of this period. Youth interns are treated as employees and gain exposure to true business operations and practices. For example, they receive the same orientation and onboarding training as other new hires. They also learn job readiness skills, receive informal mentors, and have the opportunity to collaborate with other departments/projects outside of store operations. There are similar programs in Philadelphia, Pittsburg, Ohio and Chicago. Approximately 10% of VILLA’s workforce has been sourced through these community based partnerships, and with the addition of new programs in Dallas and Detroit this year, they are hoping to see that percentage increase.
Background Checks: VILLA also engages OY through their unique take on background checks. Entry level employees do not go through background checks when they are hired. Not only does this allow VILLA to utilize their resources for other things, like successful internal training programs, but it significantly increases the number of applicants that they get. A background check is only done when an employee is promoted to a full time or management position. As a result, the average tenure amongst their 18 to 24 year old employees is almost 2 years.
Internal Hiring: VILLA is committed to promoting from within, so much so that their company goal is to have 80% of all promotions and management positions filled by internal hires. The team works hard to get an internal person in every position; they rarely search for external talent. This is possible because of the many training and mentoring offerings available for employees who are looking to grow within the organization. The success is in the numbers: On average, VILLA’s store managers have been with the company between 5-7 years in their older markets and 2-3 years in newer markets .
“Our store managers are very connected to the communities that our stores operate in because most of the time, they live in those communities themselves… they know what the community and customers want.”
– Corinne Green, Manager of Organizational Development at VILLA