America Needs Open Hiring 

September 25, 2019 Posted under Greyston Bakery

Every day in America, millions of capable and willing men and women are systematically excluded from participating in the workplace. The reasons for this are many and varied including things like past incarceration, poor education, and chronic, generational poverty. These underlying problems are mountains and the solutions to them remain out of reach but, at Greyston, we know that the symptoms of these societal ills can be alleviated.  

Greyston is a leader in a movement to change traditional hiring systems to create a more inclusive economy and inspire a new model for employment that trusts in the potential of every human to be successful. We call this Open Hiring. Open Hiring is a radically inclusive approach to hiring that can be effectively applied to any business seeking to make positive change in the community while looking for new workers.   

With Open Hiring, we trust in the potential of every person to be successful on the job and invest in that trust with training, apprenticeships and support services to give each team member the greatest opportunity to succeed. We don’t judge people for what they have done in the past, but rather hold people accountable for what needs to be done in the future.  The Open Hiring business model has been working at Greyston for over 37 years providing employment to over 3,500 people and producing world-class food products in the process. 

We must take courageous steps to dismantle the biases in our system that prevent good people from gaining access to the workforce as the mounting public conversation about income inequality, lack of inclusion, and the disparity between the economic “haves and have nots” points at the urgent need to make change. Open Hiring is this change.  

Greyston would like to commend the 181 CEOs of the Business Roundtable for redefining their Purpose of a Corporation to include all stakeholders – customers, employees, suppliers, communities and shareholders. We applaud the leaders of the B Corp movement for not only making a call to action for change with their full-page advertisement in the New York Times, but also for setting the standards of what it means to be a company driven by purpose. As a fellow B Corp and leader in the movement to create a more inclusive economy, Greyston is committed to supporting the CEOs of the Business Roundtable and any others who have responded to this real and critical need to be one of the engines in this new economy that serves all stakeholders.   Last year, with a grant from Generation Foundation, we launched our non-profit Center for Open Hiring at Greyston as our commitment to drive positive system changes and support other courageous leaders in implementing Open Hiring. 

The Business Roundtable statement made clear that when companies focus on shareholder primacy and short-term Wall Street demands, it becomes impossible to create true and sustainable long-term value, which is needed to fully serve investors, employees, suppliers, customers, and the community as a whole.  Long-term business planning drives employment practices focused on apprenticeships, training, career development, and succession planning. Short-term business planning results in costing cutting, outsourcing and downsizing to reach quarterly goals which have a negative effect on entry-level and working class jobs that have sustained our communities (i.e. our customers) for the past century. 

Temporary help services, employment agencies, search firms, and online job boards, have become a new multi-billion dollar industry. These players, known as Labor Market Intermediaries (LMIs), have further complicated the hiring process.  This has led to even more barriers to employment being erected against people working to gain access to the workforce as large employers distance themselves further and further from new team members. 

LMIs and antiquated HR practices cost businesses billions of dollars every year through expensive recruiting systems that focus on excluding people from the workforce. Despite theses costs, the annual turnover rate for new employees can exceed 100% in many industries. Greyston knows that there are far greater tangible and intangible benefits to investing in the success of new employees rather than spending money needlessly screening applicants.   The future of work is not only about advances in technology and the changing of job skills, it is also about the creation of a truly inclusive workforce and businesses that care as much about community as they do about profit.  

The Business Roundtable revisions to the purpose of a corporation are due as the need to focus on the values of the community and its members is essential for us all to thrive. Ray Dalio captured it when reflecting on his article titled “Why and How Capitalism Needs to Be Reformed when he said, “our existing system is not producing the desired results of equal opportunities and that that’s both unfair and threatening to our well-being.” We know that American corporations need to reconsider their approach to hiring so that we, as a society, can ensure more people who want to contribute to the economy are given the opportunity.  

The lack of innovation with our hiring practices is leaving an abundance of willing and capable people on the sidelines of the economy. According to Labor Department statistics from the end of July, there are 7.2 million unfilled job openings (up from 5.3 in 2017) and only 0.8 unemployed workers for each job opening in the US. This costs businesses money as productivity suffers and overtime is paid to fill the gaps. In addition, according to July 2019 statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are 1.5 million people in the US who are defined as “marginally” attached to the labor force.  Any business that is concerned about a finding employees to support their growth should be comforted by the fact that there are likely hundreds of capable, future team members in your community just waiting for the opportunity to prove themselves. By practicing Open Hiring, an inclusive approach to hiring that focuses on a person’s potential rather than judging them on their past, those 7.5 million unfilled job openings could be filled within the week. 

Open Hiring has been used successfully by Greyston to align our business needs with the needs of team members to maximize company productivity and help individuals reach their potential.  At Greyston, through the work of The Center for Open Hiring at Greyston, we envision a world where responsible businesses collaborate with communities to create inclusive economies. We envision a world where business assets are deployed more efficiently and effectively to generate a return on investment that benefits the company, its employees and its community. 

It is time to take this conversation out of the C-suite and put some boots on the ground. 

America needs Open Hiring and we need it now.