Jonathan J. Halperin
Jonathan J. Halperin
Designing Research, Communications
and Strategies for Sustainability

Greyston Social Enterprise — Using Inclusion to Generate Profits and Social Justice The Successful and Achievable Open Hiring Model

(Courtesy of BtheChange)

Today is the day we each need to decide: Do we want a society that is more inclusive or more exclusive? That is the question. From Boston harbor to the Statue of Liberty, from the Gateway Arch to the Mexican border, we believe the arc of history bends toward inclusion, not exclusion. It is inclusion that has made our nation great.

Access and mobility, the freedom to chase a dream, the urge to innovate, the opportunity to take risks in order to succeed, the right to become part of the American tapestry; this is the America that we celebrate every single day at Greyston. At Greyston, inclusion is the core of our Open Hiring Model. Open Hiring creates opportunities for everyone: women, men, people of color, people of all faiths and sexual orientations, immigrants and refugees, the economically disadvantaged, the formerly incarcerated and all others who may have been excluded — blocked from contributing to the health and strength of our society. Because no one willing to work should be denied the dignity of a job. Greyston Social Enterprise

Open Hiring is not a handout or give away. It is built on mutual respect, opportunity, a fair chance. It is about communities, jobs, families. It is about responsibility, hard work, commitment, achievement, and the intrinsic worth of every human being. And we’ve been doing it for 34 years. What began as a modest bakery on the edge of New York City with the moniker that “we don’t hire people to bake brownies, we bake brownies to hire people,” has emerged today as a globally recognized brand with an innovative business model and value proposition. We are proud to be a mission-driven social enterprise and certified B Corp, proud to be based in Yonkers, proud to be New York state’s first registered benefit corporation, and proud to be part of Unilever’s global business ecosystem. We are proud of what we have done with Open Hiring.

Open Hiring is not just a job, but a pathway forward — providing career training and life skills. Jobs are fundamental and yet insufficient. Open Hiring connects jobs to families and childcare — so parents can work to support their families. Open Hiring supports parks, gardens, and healthy eating. Open Hiring generates community housing and economic development. All from baking brownies — and a mission to use business as a force for god. What we do is first and foremost about people — and about systems, changing and creating new systems that meet social, environmental, and financial needs. It upends traditional hiring practices that focus on spending to screen people out and instead makes an investment to include people and support their success.

We envision a world where responsible businesses collaborate with communities to create inclusive economies. We envision a world where businesses compete to attract and retain citizens who have done their time and want to start a new life. We envision a world where business assets are deployed more effectively to generate a social return on investment that benefits the company, its employees and its community. We envision a world where tax benefits are extended to mission-driven companies that demonstrate consistent returns on mission that reduce government obligations. We envision a world where we recognize that everyone — from CEOs to day laborers — needs support to succeed on the job and also be a responsible family and community member.

Greyston is a community that celebrates the art of what is possible, that believes everyone can contribute, and that puts faith in the power of core American values: opportunity, fairness, respect, and equity. And, we measure success every day — and over the long term. Success for Greyston is not a trade-off where we short the next generation to make outsized profits today. We must not sacrifice our children’s future to satisfy our near-term desires. Greyston generates strong returns for all stakeholders, a hybrid enterprise with nonprofit operations alongside a commercial business.

Dion and Shay, two employees of Greyston Bakery. Photo courtesy Greyston.

Our signature initiatives weave together business innovation and social justice to create thriving and inclusive communities:

  • The Center for Open Hiring at Greyston, a collaborative learning space facilitating the widespread adoption of Open Hiring and supporting innovation in the delivery of community programs for employees and neighbors;
  • Development of new financial models to support mission-driven, hybrid organizations;
  • Public policy engagement to create a level playing field for benefit corporations;
  • Design of social return on investment (SROI) vehicles that bring transparency and rigor to measuring impact;
  • Creation of the Association for Open Hiring to collaboratively set standards and best practices for Open Hiring;
  • Leveraging the purchasing power of global supply chains to support Open Hiring;
  • Alignment with business schools to prepare new leaders ready to manage for social, financial and environmental success; and
  • Preparation of the Open Hiring toolkit and guidelines for innovative HR leaders.

We are a modest bakery with a great, big, disruptive idea. And we’ve been perfecting it for three decades. We are “Bakers on a Mission.” Work with us: Inclusion@Greyston.com

We needed an outside perspective on working with leading corporations and turned to Jonathan to assess our approach, refine our strategy, facilitate internal roll-out and help us execute. He helped us to think big, see new opportunities, reshape our communications and engage internal stakeholders. His counsel and ongoing support has been constructively provocative. Jonathan’s strategic thinking is keen and his facilitation skills are superior; he drills quickly to the underlying issues with a deft combination of determination and diplomacy.

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