Creating Social Value Blog / Corporate Social Relevance

Quantifying the Impacts of Open Hiring at Greyston Bakery

By Evadne Cokeh, Babson graduate student and Inventureship recipient.

In my application to the Babson MBA program, I wrote, “During my time at Babson, I want to identify effective models that improve job opportunities for low-income individuals. I believe for-profit business can be a powerful avenue for positive community change.”

Lucky me, I spent my summer internship doing exactly that. I found myself at Greyston Bakery in Yonkers, NY: a for-profit business leading community change by providing job opportunities to individuals with barriers to employment. On the business end, Greyston is a food manufacturer of brownies. You know those delicious brownies in Ben and Jerry’s ice cream? Yeah, those are Greyston brownies. And yeah, I got to eat those all summer. But the real reason why I wanted an internship at Greyston was because of their Open Hiring model and my interest in equitable employment opportunities. Greyston hires their line manufacturing workers through a process they’ve called Open Hiring. If you’re interested in working at Greyston, you would physically show up to the manufacturing plant, put your name and contact information on a job list and once there is an opening, you show up for orientation. No resume, no interview, no background check, only opportunity.

Greyston has organically run Open Hiring for 30 years and over this time has attracted a lot of interest from universities, business, and corporations all over the United States, including the President of the United States. As Greyston continues to bake brownies and make an impact on the Yonkers community, it’s also expanding its vision for impact. By 2030, Greyston desires to make Open Hiring a universal employment practice by encouraging other business to adopt it. However, most, if not all corporations worry about the potential risks of Open Hiring. They want answers to questions such as, “How much will Open Hiring cost?”, “What is the retention rate of these employees?”, and “Will I need to provide additional support services?”

While Greyston has many anecdotal stories of its success, the organization has not spent time quantifying its impact, both on the company’s bottom line and on their employees and the community. During the summer and now into the fall, I’ve been working on projects to help quantify Open Hiring and set the foundation for Greyston to create a more robust story and toolkit. During the summer, I worked to identify the top five metrics for Greyston Bakery to measure to track change,and calculated the ROI of Open Hiring by identifying the cost and savings of this type of hiring model. This fall, I’ve been supporting a Greyston Bakery SROI calculation project (Social Return on Investment) and researching to develop a business strategy for “Greyston Institute”, an arm of Greyston that would support social innovation in universities.

I have had a unique privilege to be a part of the Greyston story at a pivotal time in the organization. Exposure to Open Hiring has given me the opportunity to think critically about the Human Resources space– a department that has not received much attention in my MBA program. Nor is it an industry that has changed very much, which I believe makes it a prime candidate for disruption and innovation. With all the election chatter around creating job opportunities, I believe Greyston’s Open Hiring model provides a very feasible solution to this problem and will bring incredible change to HR and low-income communities all over the United States. More often than not, people just need to be given an opportunity, but the fear of risk and the unknown stops us. How can you follow Greyston’s model of opening opportunities rather than building barriers and obstacles today?