November 27, 2022

Open Hiring: Crazy Like a Fox or a Fool

The open hiring approach provides opportunities for employers to be a force for good that fights the injustice of unequal access to employment faced by some members of society. Imagine if you were forever judged only by your past mistakes. Would you want someone to give you another chance?
An Uncomfortable Approach

Imagine adopting a hiring policy where you hire the first person through the door.  To increase anxiety, you may ask very few traditional interview questions, only focus on a candidate's potential, ignore their past, and forgo a background check.  No human professional in their right mind would think of doing so, or would they?  If you believe in open hiring, you are the person that hires the next eligible individual that asks for a job.  You are willing to be a force for good that fights the injustice of unequal access to employment faced by some members of society.

"Don't hire anyone you wouldn't want to run into in the hallway at three in the morning." – Tina Fey
Traditional Advice

Tina Fey, an American actress, comedian, writer, producer, and playwright, is not the person you would generally go to for advice on human resource policy.  However, most people would agree that you should follow her recommendation.  Who would want to see a former drug addict, ex-felon, or reformed sexual predator they might encounter in the factory in the middle of the night?

Open Hiring at Greyston Bakery

A Zen Buddhist starts a bakery with a hiring process that accepts anyone willing to work.  It sounds like the start of a joke that, instead, is the first step to self-sufficiency for those facing barriers to meaningful employment.  Bernie Glassman started Greyston Bakery in 1982 to "bake brownies to hire people." The supplier to one of my occasional favorite indulgences of Ben & Jerry's Salted Carmel Core with blonde brownies.  Building on twenty years of success, their 2020 strategy included a ten-year vision to employ 40,000 Americans traditionally unable to secure meaningful employment.  The company has built a culture that ingrains the following core values:

Collaboration – We seize opportunities to develop solutions and innovate for the greater good of our organization, employees, and those we serve.

• Compassion - We equip each person with the tools to be successful, understanding they have their own story.

• Empowerment - We create the conditions for each person to become self-sufficient, honoring their freedom of choice.

• Non-Judgement - We understand that all members of a community are interconnected and have a unique role to play and contribution to make, regardless of their past.

• Respect - We value and learn from what makes each of us different.

• Transformation - We are committed to fostering meaningful growth in our communities and the world at large.

Generally good advice for any organization that has been key to the remarkable success of Greyston Bakery.  They have seen an 80% reduction in time-to-hire, 93% less hiring costs, a work culture of positive perception with trust in their employer, and a beneficial impact on the economics of their local community.  Achievement of significant results that comes with strict requirements for continuing employment, but within an ecosystem that offers the most effective potential for worker success.

Craig Dennis on Pexels
Not an Isolated Success Story

The Body Shop, a global beauty brand, has also adopted a "hiring practice that is fair and inclusive to all." When a hiring opportunity arises, the hiring manager selects the first person on the list by application date for an in-person chat.  The interviewer shares the available positions, information about the company and its history, and the employment roles and responsibilities.  If the candidate continues to have employment interest, three items regarding the physical aspects and eligibility include:

Are you legally authorized to work in this country?

• Can you lift up to 25 lbs (50 lbs for distribution center employees) and work up to an 8-hour shift?

• (Retail) Tell me why you want to work with customers.

The Body Shop focuses on the candidate's potential vs. their history by replacing scrutiny with trust.  In addition, the company works with regional community partners to support candidates with wrap-around support similar to the Network2Work program shared last week.  While in the early stages of adopting the open hiring approach, they are moving from doing so in a pilot program in September of 2019 in its North Carolina distribution center with seasonal employees to expanding it to permanent hires in 2021.  Another employer that provides meaningful employment for those traditionally unable to do so because of past transgressions.

Key Takeaway

The open-hiring approach provides opportunities for employers to be a force for good that fights the injustice of unequal access to employment faced by some members of society.  Imagine if you were forever judged only by your past mistakes.  Would you want someone to give you another chance?

First Step

Individuals interested in exploring the concept of open hiring would benefit from reading Open Hiring: Everything You Need to Know.  The article overviews the approach and lists some advantages and disadvantages of adopting this as a human resource policy.  Those interested in looking at the concept at a deeper level can visit the Greyston Bakery webpage on open hiring for Employers.

My Gratitude

I am grateful to companies like Greyston Bakery and The Body Shop, which are adopters of the open hiring employment practice.  While there are disadvantages to the approach, the potential exists to have beneficial advantages when done with appropriate precautions.

Sneak Peek

Next week's blog will explore options to lessen the waste of human potential as it relates to humanist manufacturing.      

To learn more about our work or read more blog posts, visit

If you like what you have read, I invite you to connect with me on LinkedIn

Contact me if you need help with the manufacturing support services of consulting, coaching, Fractional Chief Sustainability Officer, or training/reskilling at 734-664-9076.

See my virtual TEDx Videos at Reinventing the Prison Industrial Complex and Humanist Manufacturing.

You can sign up for my newsletter or send me an email at Contact Me

Cover Image Credit: nappy on Pexels

View listing
let's get to work

Get in touch with us today.

Are you a leader who knows that change is necessary? Do you need support in achieving meaningful the results you’re looking for? Emmanuel Strategic Sustainability is the firm that can help make your goals a reality.
Let's get started!