Greyston Bakery makes all the delicious brownies for Ben and Jerry’s ice cream with a workforce entirely hired by their Open Hiring policy. They produce over 30,000 pounds of brownies EVERY DAY at their world class manufacturing facility. Their Open Hiring policy removes the barriers to employment that entry level job seekers face. There’s no resume to write, background or credit check to pass, and no interview. Granting access to steady employment not only creates opportunity for individuals, but has a positive impact on the entire community. Keep listening to learn how your eating brownies can change lives.
Visit Greyston.org to check out their non-profit and get support in removing barriers to employment in your company. Or head over to GreystonBakery.com to pick up some brownies for yourself. You can also learn more about them on Ben and Jerry’s Website.
I mentioned at the tail end of the episode that we are working towards ensuring that our health care plans have explicit coverage for transgender folks. I myself being a trans person know how hard this is to navigate and have leaned on some of the below resources in the past.
Language from B Labs on trans inclusive healthcare: “Transgender inclusive plans explicitly go beyond traditional plans to formally say in writing that services such as access to hormones or gender confirmation surgery are covered. This is distinct from having a plan that does not explicitly exclude it.”
The good news is, as far as we can tell, all of that is covered under the health insurance plan. That being said, I know some things I’ve run into in the past (before coming to work at Dirigo) that have come up are when I have what would be routine care, not covered because of being trans. An example, I had to keep my medical records defining me as “female” (I identify as a man but was assigned female at birth) so that routine procedures in a physical would be covered by insurance, because insurance won’t cover routine procedures for a female bodied person, for a man. These are the intricacies we are still working out. So far so good though.
Also, we are re-working our hiring policies to remove some of the unnecessary boundaries that Sara talked about in this episode and working to build a more diverse team, and we cam across the book Diversity Inc: The Failed Promise of a Billion Dollar Business (links to Better World Books a B Corp certified bookstore) by Pamela Newkirk. Newkirk shares how many attempts at creating equity in the work place of large companies has failed and provides insight on the gaps that exist and what we, as employers, can do to close that gap. We’re just digging into this now but I wanted to share that resource with you all as we came across it.
Sara Marcus [0:00]
It’s not about what the baggage you bring. It’s not about where you’ve been. It’s about what you’re capable of doing in the future. And really seeing the value and the potential in any individual.
Benn Marine [0:16]
From Dirigo Collective, this is Responsibly Different. Sharing stories of Certified B Corporations and our journey of joining them in leveraging business as a force for good.
I’m Benn Marine. Nothing is more delicious than the sweet treat of brownies. Well, except for brownies that create jobs for folks with limited access to employment opportunities. Today I share with you my conversation with the open hiring director at Greyston, which runs the B Corp certified Greyston Bakery. Greyston Bakery makes all delicious brownies for Ben and Jerry’s ice cream with a workforce entirely hired by their open hiring policy. They produce over 30,000 pounds of brownies every day at their world class manufacturing facility. Their open hiring policy removes the barriers to employment that entry level job seekers face, there’s no resume to write, background or credit check to pass and no interview. Granting access to steady employment not only creates opportunities for individuals, but has a huge positive impact on the entire community. Keep listening to learn how your eating brownies can change lives.
Sara Marcus [1:32]
My name is Sarah Marcus, and I’m the Director of our Center for Open Hiring at Greyston. So that means I work with other companies on replicating Greyston’s model of open hiring.
Benn Marine [1:43]
So you’re the as you said, the current director for open hiring at Greyston, which I’m super excited to talk more about. To get us started, though, I’m curious, how did you find your way to Greyston?
Sara Marcus [1:52]
Sure, yeah. So prior to Greyston, I had roles in kind of much more traditional private sector organizations. I have an MBA. I started my career in management consulting. So I was working with companies across sectors on their strategic initiatives and projects. I then worked in corporate strategy and the food and beverage industry. And so I would say throughout my career, I’ve focused on working with businesses on transformational change, but I wasn’t always necessarily that passionate about those change initiatives that I was working on. And I always held this firm belief that business had the power to do more and that there were better business models out there that could both produce value for, for stakeholders beyond just a business’s shareholders, you know, stakeholder capitalism, whatever you want to call it. I was very interested in that. And so I found Greyston, because because I was looking for a business that really lived those values. And I was interested in kind of bringing that skill set of working with businesses on transformation and change to a business model that I could really get behind. And so I feel very fortunate that I was able to find that in Greyston and in open hiring. And so I get to work with business leaders, similar to what I did in my previous life, except this time we’re changing people’s lives by removing barriers to employment.
Benn Marine [3:17]
That is so cool. That is so cool. And Greyston has a rich and kind of fascinating history in and of itself, and how it was started and right up through to today. Can you walk us through that history and share how it impacts how the business was running today?
Sara Marcus [3:30]
Absolutely. Yeah. Greyston has a fascinating and long history. So it was founded by an interesting man named Bernie Glassman, who was an aeronautical engineer turned then Buddhist monk who held this belief that businesses had the power to have a positive impact in society long before that was sort of part of our general vernacular. This was in the early 1980s. And so he started by making cakes and hiring folks off the street, predominately homeless people, who he saw not as liabilities on society, but as really untapped assets that could create immense value for businesses and that was the beginning of Greyston. And in the mid 80s, he came in contact with Ben and Jerry of Ben and Jerry’s, at I think it was one of the earliest social venture network conferences again, this is before social enterprise was a term that many of us were familiar with and, and Ben and Jerry’s just fell in love with the mission of Greyston and said, you know, we have to do something together. And that was how chocolate fudge brownie came to be and how Greyston came to be the global supplier of brownies to Ben and Jerry’s now owned by Unilever. And over the years, Bernie had built various kind of, we had the fourth for profit bakery. He had several nonprofit activities that he would get into if he just sort of saw needs in the community and would build services to address them. And then in terms of how it impacts us today, I mean, it was really founded on some of these Buddhist principles of non-judgement and transformation. And it’s not about what the baggage you bring. It’s not about where you’ve been. It’s about what you’re capable of doing in the future. And really seeing the value and the potential in any individual that came through the doors of Greyston Bakery. And that’s honestly still how we hire today.
Benn Marine [5:32]
That’s so cool. That’s so awesome. And you kind of touched on this a little bit. Greyston Bakery also has a non-profit. Can you speak a little bit about, kind of the nonprofit what that looks like and how it’s different from the for profit bakery?
Sara Marcus [5:44]
So the for profit bakery, the B Corp is wholly owned by Greyston, not the nonprofit and so that means that the profits of the bakery are either reinvested in the business or actually fund our nonprofit work. Again, as I mentioned earlier, Bernie would really just go around in the community here in Southwest Yonkers and kind of look for for needs and also talk to the employees and try to better understand what were the challenges that they face. What services were lacking in the community. And then he got into some of the services so over the years, but Greyston has had affordable housing, Greyston has had an early childcare learning center because folks needed child care. More recently, we have shifted to more of a partnership approach where it doesn’t necessarily make sense for Greyston to be doing everything and what we know really well is employment. And so our nonprofit has shifted to focus more on workforce development programming and training programs to help folks get employed and then we partner with others in the community who are better positioned to help our clients or employees find housing or access childcare.
Benn Marine [7:00]
That’s so cool. I’m curious, how do those partnerships work? Like, is it does Greyston say, Okay, here’s the need, let’s find the partner or do partners come to Greyston and say, Hey, can we put like, like, I’m just so curious, what does that look like? And how do those relationships manifest?
Sara Marcus [7:15]
Yeah, so so what we found works best for our employees, at Greyston Bakery is for there actually to be someone on site that they can go to. And that can help them address the challenges that they face in their lives that may be impacting their ability to be successful on the job. So that person not is not necessarily going to solve their housing problem, but they can refer them to someone who does so rather than us filling that role, we actually have a partnership with a social service agency, Westchester, Jewish community services are the largest mental health provider in our county, and we contract with them to actually provide a resource on site. So they’re not part of Greyston, you know, they’re not in HR. So if someone’s, let’s say facing a substance abuse issue, they may feel more comfortable not going to their employer about that problem, but we have a vested interest in helping them solve it, right? Because it’s, it’s not, you know, it doesn’t help us get brownies out the door and grow our business if someone can’t come to work with their best kind of most productive and healthy self. So we see this obviously as an investment in our employees, but ultimately an investment in our business. And because when someone’s life is in crisis, it’s really hard to to come to work on time and do your best work. So we have that model in place that works well for us.
Benn Marine [8:37]
That is so neat. I love that. And now, is that something with the arm of Greyston where you guys do so much in employment land, is that something that you recommend other businesses do? Have you seen that model replicate in other places, where having, you know, a third party, kind of Human Services, non-profit, help out, work well?
Sara Marcus [8:58]
We’re working on it. We definitely seen other businesses embrace open hiring in terms of how we bring folks in, no questions asked. And we have some really exciting pilots, especially with some other B Corps going and with that model. It’s been more challenging to help employers build those relationships. I do think Greyston is unique in that we have this hybrid model. And we are just so embedded kind of in the social service sector in our community that we really understand how to build those kinds of partnerships. But it’s, it’s unique and many businesses are not used to working with nonprofits. And so we are trying to show how that can get replicated. And that ultimately, again, that it serves their their business and their bottom line to to invest in that kind of support for their employees and they don’t have to be the ones to solve the problem because they’re not going to be experts on housing or childcare but that there are those in their community that are that are kind of there. To help and support.
Benn Marine [10:01]
Awesome, so speaking of that, so much of both the bakery and the nonprofit center around this concept of open hiring, can you walk us through what open hiring is and why it’s an important investment in community development?
Sara Marcus [10:15]
Sure. Yeah, it’s important to define this concept I’ve been talking about. So open hiring is essentially providing a job opportunity, no questions asked. So the way it works at our bakery is if you want a job on our manufacturing floor, you show up in person and we do require that you kind of show up in person rather than call in and put your name on a list. It’s really like as simple as it sounds, it’s a clipboard, you put your name and your contact information. The only question we ask is, ‘are you authorized to work in the US?’ other than that we have no requirements. We don’t do background checks. We don’t do resumes. We don’t do interviews, even. We don’t do drug testing. And when we have roles available we call folks down the list, usually hiring cohorts of about 10. And bring them in and explain to them the expectations of the job. And hopefully, if it’s not a good fit, they self select out quickly. But once they once they’re with us, I mean, they are employees of Greyston. And fundamentally, the model is about shifting investment away from screening people out into where we’re investing in employees. So because we spent essentially nothing on recruiting, we have a budget to use for that, you know, case manager that I described, or to beef up our onboarding or our training. Companies spend a lot of money screening people out the, you know, it’s a billion, several billion dollar industry, background check, credit checks, all of those kinds of barriers to employment that don’t necessarily serve their intended purpose because a lot of businesses with heavy kind of entry level workforces still face extremely high rates of turnover, you know, some some of them in the 50’s, some over 100 and some of the, you know, food service and retail sectors. And so these these resources that are spent screening people out are really not not good use of resources. And so open hiring, again, kind of shifts that towards investing, investing in the employees that do come through your door.
Benn Marine [12:26]
What does some of that I think you touched on it a little bit, but what does some of that investment in employees look like? So they put their name on [the list], their called in and so do they go is like a really intensive training, like, what does setting them up for success look like?
Sara Marcus [12:43]
Yeah, it’s really not that intensive. I think that we really kind of trust in the potential of any individual that comes through our door to be a successful employee and we treat them as such. We obviously are upfront about the requirements of the job, the expectations and in terms of scheduling, and you know, some people think bakery and they think they’re going to be, you know, making handcrafted pastries or something. And we are, you know, a manufacturing facility producing upwards of 40,000 pounds of brownies a day. So we have to be sure to kind of set those expectations up front. We do also really bring them into the fold in terms of Greyston’s values and mission and we really connect the work that they’ll be doing on the manufacturing floor with that mission with what goes into a pint of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. I have found with some of the employers that we’ve worked with that not every employer is treating, you know, their average distribution center employee coming in that way that it’s really just sometimes about picking and packing boxes, but we really try and put the day to day work in context of our broader our broader mission as a company, and we think that that produces better outcomes when people feel connected, in terms of the work they’re doing every day. And then we provide training around manufacturing practices around quality, around food safety, all of the things that kind of makes someone successful in our industry. We do also provide soft skills training, things like communication and conflict management and de-escalation. But honestly, all of these things, I would say, are really just good HR. Like our, our workforce, you know, there it’s really, it’s like any other workforce, except that there are folks who have been denied jobs many times over. And so they are stellar employees for us. And we hope more businesses become open to hiring, hiring folks that otherwise they might exclude but the jobs can mostly be taught, you know, in the first few days and again, provide some of those additional trainings, but the list in terms of kind of doing open hiring I, you know, we really try and kind of dispel this notion that, oh, you’re going to open your doors, it’s going to be, you know, a totally different type of workforce. And hopefully, it’ll be a more diverse workforce. But any sort of challenges you may think that you may run into are probably the same challenges that any employer hiring large portions of entry level talent are dealing with now.
Benn Marine [15:27]
Is there like a question that routinely comes up whenever you talk about open hiring from employers that you like, just wish you could just tell the world to kind of maybe squelch it?
Sara Marcus [15:41]
Ah yes, we often get, so do you hire murderers? And then sometimes our question back is, well, how do you know that you don’t have murderers on your staff right now? The background check, tells you who got caught and just because you do background checks doesn’t mean that you don’t face risks associated with workplace safety and theft. And we really have very low incidence of any of those things. But businesses need to have systems and processes in place for managing the risks that they face no matter who or how they’re hiring. It’s really no different for us. And I think people have this idea in their head of what our manufacturing facility must look like. But it must be just chaos and flour going everywhere. And when you come and visit, and you realize it looks like a world-class manufacturing facility, because that’s what it is. We supply Unilever and they have the highest quality standards. And so we do really try and dispel those myths again, that if you do open hiring, that you’re somehow going to bring in a different or more, quote, dangerous population, and people also have you know, misconceptions about who’s coming out of the prison system. And most of the folks who are formerly incarcerated looking for jobs are coming out on nonviolent offenses, and they paid their debt to society and wouldn’t you rather that person have a job and have to find some other way of making income? So we talked to businesses a lot about a lot of those things. We also get the question of well as it only is it just about the formerly incarcerated, and it’s really not I mean, open hiring serves anyone who, for whatever reason, has not been able to get a job through traditional pathways. For us in our community that does mean we end up hiring some folks who have criminal backgrounds. We don’t ask what their background is. So we don’t actually know who has a background but anecdotally through our case manager, she kind of provides numbers in aggregate and we know that we have a portion of our of our workforce that had some involvement, past involvement with the criminal justice system, but we’ve talked to other businesses who are interested in other employee potential pools of talent and such as single moms who may not really have a resume, but may want to get back into the workforce, or refugees or folks who don’t speak English well, and so businesses can think about who they can partner with, again, that gets back to this idea of partnering with nonprofits, not necessarily being a one stop shop because no individual business can be. But finding those community based organizations that serve the populations that you’re interested in hiring who may not have historically gotten access to the job that you offer, and they become great referral pipelines for you and it can also do some of that wraparound support as well, because they’re already serving the needs other than the job for those who they serve.
Benn Marine [18:55]
That’s so great. And so I know both the the bakery and the nonprofit organizations have that the Center for Open– am I calling that right, the Center for Open Hiring?
Sara Marcus [19:08]
Center for Open Hiring, yup.
Benn Marine [19:09]
Which helps guide other companies in implementing their own open hiring practices. What are some business models that could utilize open hiring? I know you mentioned anyone with like entry level jobs. Have you seen any instances where maybe people have thought really creatively about the work that they’re doing and have maybe bended some of their work to fit an open hiring model?
Sara Marcus [19:34]
Yeah, we’ve thought about this in different ways. I mean, yes, it makes sense for companies who have high numbers of entry level talent, where the training can largely be done on the job to consider an open hiring model. But we also think that barriers to employment can be… you can think about removing barriers to employment throughout the ranks of your organization. So maybe you’re doing open hiring for frontline retail jobs, for example, but do you really still need background checks up in the C Suite? Or does that job really require an MBA coming from someone who has an MBA? Or do you really just need that person to be able to do financial modeling? And if that’s what you need, can you just put that in the job description, instead of the educational requirement? I mean, we, we talked about those things, and we hope businesses can kind of think creatively about that. But ultimately, you know, at the Center for Open Hiring, our mission is to remove barriers to employment for as many people as possible and create opportunities for the hardest to employ. And so from that standpoint, we are looking for those industries and business models that rely heavily, heavily on entry level talent. We also then talk to companies who maybe don’t have as much entry level talent, but maybe there’s someone in the mailroom, maybe they’re, you know, maybe they’re a bank and there are a couple of back office jobs, that they can really create an opportunity, no questions asked. And maybe someone’s gonna come into that role and do really well and work their way up. That’s the kind of creative change that that we hope to see.
Benn Marine [21:12]
And if folks are considering open hiring practices, what advice would you give them for getting started, like maybe those first few steps.
Sara Marcus [21:20]
So first step would be identifying the jobs that would be good candidates for open hiring. And the companies we’ve worked with are mostly piloting it in one part of their organization. One of the one of the major pilots we have is with the Body Shop, fellow B Corp, and that is, they decided to start in their distribution center, they have a really large need for seasonal talent around their holiday season. And previously, they were doing background checks, and asking for high school degrees and drug tests and it was honestly really hard for them to hire as many people as quickly as they needed them. And so for them, that was a good place to start. They did a pilot it was successful. And now they’re thinking about how did they roll that out to their retail stores in a customer facing capacity. So thinking about kind of that progression is a good step to start with. The big one, I would say is generating buy in and communicating with your employees, with your leaders, with your customers, with your shareholders, where we’ve seen has gone wrong is when companies would kind of start doing it without bringing everyone along through the process. But we think it makes it much more successful when everyone understands what the company is doing, why they’re doing it, what’s their role in being a part of it. And when we think when that happens, it actually is a really great kind of initiative for workplace culture standpoint, because imagine you’re a supervisor, frontline supervisor at a warehouse and suddenly your business decides to do open hiring and you’re not just packing boxes, you’re changing lives. And we think that that can really bring meaning into the workplace and can be enormously transformative for company culture, I would say, developing the roadmap in terms of types of jobs and doing that kind of communication and buy in, developing buy in. Some of that might be like building your own business page for it. I mean, we can tell you, you know, on average, companies spend $4,000 per hire on screening people out, but that’s probably not your cost, right, as a, you know, as an individual company. And so thinking through, okay, where, where can we find value here? And that that can help facilitate some of those conversations, and then that partnership development piece is another another good first step to start talking to those in the community who know, you know, what are the populations in our area who are not getting access to employment currently, and how can I partner with these organizations to reach that population and better support them. We think having those conversations earlier on is helpful as well. And come talk to Greyston and we can help you.
Benn Marine [24:09]
Awesome. And with, with coming to, to learn more at Greyston do folks come from all over the world? Or is it is it just really serving kind of the greater Yonkers area? Or what does that look like?
Sara Marcus [24:24]
We actually have had both come from all over the world. Believe it or not, there are about a dozen companies in the Netherlands, practicing open hiring through a partnership we developed a couple years back with a foundation there that’s now kind of working closely with us but largely implementing on their own over there. We’ve worked with within the US companies from California to Vermont to North Carolina, and there’s really interest from all over. We are now thinking about, what would a regional ecosystem to support employers doing open hiring look like so that not everyone has to develop these community partnerships. But perhaps if there’s an infrastructure of partnerships that can get leveraged across a network of employers in a given region that might kind of facilitate open hiring adoption more rapidly, but we’re evangelists and we’ll, we’ll talk to anyone who interested.
Benn Marine [25:23]
So great. I know as part of the nonprofit Greyston has a workforce development program as well, which sounds like it’s about more than just hiring but actually developing folks, once they’re in the door, what does that program look like? And how and how do folks move through it?
Sara Marcus [25:41]
Right, so the Workforce Development programming is part of our nonprofit. So it’s actually serving community members in Yonkers, not necessarily that have come through our bakery, but who are just interested in developing their skills, building a new career. And so we offer several different programs. I think right now, we have have Building and Construction Trades training going on. We do a security guard training. We also have a traditional employment program for folks coming out of the prison system to clean the streets of Yonkers, called the Greyston Rangers. And so that’s primarily for folks in the Yonker’s community interested in those programs, we are better integrating that with our bakery population because not everyone wants to work in a bakery their entire lives, and and it’s for some people, but not for everyone and we want to for those for whom something else might be a better career path, we want to support them and moving on and then create a new opportunity at bakery for someone else to come through. And so we’re kind of developing pathways for folks to go from the bakery into those programs. So that you know, we can we can kind of meet everyone where they are and figure out what’s the best home for them.
Benn Marine [26:57]
Is that Workforce Development Program, serving Yonkers in the greater area, or do folks come either from other areas or leave Yonkers and go to other places looking for work? I’m thinking about, like, are there like, if there are folks listening right now that are hiring, you know, if it makes sense, like hiring from that pool?
Sara Marcus [27:20]
Yeah, the folks are primarily from Yonkers, although we do, I think pull from some surrounding neighboring cities and counties. And, and you know, the great thing about being in the New York area, is that public transit is readily accessible. So folks do definitely then work in various parts of the New York City area.
Benn Marine [27:41]
And so shifting gears a little bit, I know Greyston certified as a B Corp for the first time in 2008, with a score of 102.7, which is really impressive. Is your B Corp status something that is at the forefront of how you do business and how your business is run? Or is it more a by-product of your mission.
Sara Marcus [28:03]
We definitely talk about it a lot. It’s really important to us I think, in terms of like the chicken and the egg. I mean Greyston has been doing kind of everything that B Corps stand for for much longer than B Corps have been in existence. But as soon as the movement took off, I mean, we knew we wanted to be one of the early ones that this was important to us to kind of solidify and and honestly like better understand the things that had been kind of part of the DNA of the business from the beginning. So it was in some ways a by-product, but it’s something that’s super important to us and that we talk about a lot.
Benn Marine [28:40]
And how has being a B Corp helped Greyston in continuing with the mission?
Sara Marcus [28:48]
Yeah, I think, I think you know, they say you can only manage what you measure and and being a B Corp, certified B Corp helps you measure the things that you know intuitively sound like the right thing to do, but it helps when there’s actually numbers and metrics associated with them. This is like now the MBA talking. And so it has helped us measure and manage those indicators across a variety of different factors and stakeholder groups. And so while Greyston was extremely focused on our employees and our social mission, and you know, it’s helped us understand our key indicators around the environment, and how can we be doing better for the environment. So it both helped us kind of broaden our engagement with our different stakeholders, as well as then kind of measure and manage accordingly. And also, I mean, that the network of B Corps are is a great network to be a part of. There’s some really amazing innovative companies doing really neat things and it’s helpful for us and we obviously want everyone to learn about open hiring and then become open hiring adopters, but it’s also useful for us to learn from others and hear about other innovative business models and ways in which other businesses are supporting their communities.
Benn Marine [30:10]
Have you found yourselves partnering with other B Corps a lot?
Sara Marcus [30:14]
Yes, some of our some of our key partners are B Corps. I mean, our largest customer for our brownies is obviously Ben and Jerry’s, and they are B Corp. And so we, you know, we work very closely with them both on our brownie, you know obviously their brownie business, but also on their hiring initiatives, and Unilever’s broader supplier, you know, mission to source from, Ben and Jerry’s calls them values based suppliers, of which we are one. And I mentioned our pilot with the Body Shop, they’re relatively new B Corp, while they’re new as a B Corp, not new as a company, but I think similarly, were founded in the 80s by a very mission driven founder Anita Roddick, who was focused on bringing cruelty free animal testing free products into the into the beauty industry, which at the time was very new and innovative. And so we’re really excited about our partnership with them because for them, they really are on this kind of journey post being owned by L’Oreal and now they’re having new owner, Natura, that really charged them with getting back to their roots as a mission driven brand. And so we’ve kind of synced up with them and they’ve really leaned into open hiring as something that they think is the right thing to do within their human capital strategy.
Benn Marine [31:41]
Do you have any of like just your own personal favorite B Corps that you’d love to hear from either on this podcast or just in general about how they’re they’re doing things and understanding more about their businesses?
Sara Marcus [31:52]
Oh there are a lot.
I mean, the big ones are the ones that I you know, I’m I am excited about, Patagonia, obviously, Danone actually acquired the business that I was working for when I was in the food and beverage industry. And so I’m really excited about them leaning into the B Corp movement as a tool for building more purpose driven businesses. And I’m really excited to see what direction they take that in. And I know when I, they acquired a company, I was that kind of just before I left, I started to see some of the things they were doing and it was very environmentally focused, which is incredibly important, especially as you think about food business and, and food security relying on the health of our climate. But I am hopeful that they’ll lean into social inclusion and social justice work as well. And I do think that the murder of George Floyd and recent kind of CEO activism around Black Lives Matter I think, you know, CEOs are waking up to the social and racial inequities in our system and that businesses play a role in in perpetuating that, and that hiring is one lever that they have at their disposal to address those inequities. And yes, you know, making statements kind of condemning police brutality is super important and helpful. But as business leaders, this is one area where they can really move the needle. And so I’m hopeful that B Corps that sometimes I think are rightly focused on the environment will also lean into social justice. And not just from a activism, donation standpoint, but in a, from a standpoint of, you know, how can I build a more inclusive workforce and ultimately more inclusive economy starting with you know, my, my, my own pool of talent.
Benn Marine [33:51]
It’s true and really working on building down, breaking down some of those systems of oppression which I think absolutely right is is huge in hiring. I I feel that’s such a huge having access to a job. And and I mean, of course housing and all those other bits. Yeah, that’s a great, great point and so important for sure. What advice would you give to other companies that are looking to become a B Corp?
Sara Marcus [34:14]
I would say they should do it. I think they you know, should start somewhere. I think there are B Labs, that we, we obviously became a B Corp many years ago. So I’m probably not the best position to walk a company through the process of becoming a B Corp now, but I know that that B Lab, you know, they make it pretty seamless to start that onboarding process and to do I think they call it the B impact assessment to understand kind of where they’re at. And so I think companies should start that process because I think they’re going to learn a lot. And again, like, you know, it’ll help solidify or or uncover and solidify things that you are already doing. But now you can get a little more credit for them, and uncover areas where maybe you’re not doing so well. And you really can be doing better. And then I guess the other piece of advice is that to do it, not just for the label and the kind of stamp, which is important, but also for this community, of B Corps that I’ve described, because you’ll, you’ll learn a lot from others and you probably have a lot to bring. And it’s a really wonderful network of business leaders who are really trying to do things differently and learn from one another.
Benn Marine [35:25]
Looking at how far Greyston Bakery has come since being founded in 1982. What would you say are some of the proudest moments and memories in Greyston’s history?
Sara Marcus [35:35]
Yeah, I think there’s there’s many moments and a few that stand out. I think the beginning of our partnership with Ben and Jerry’s that continues to this day. I think we started supplying them in 1987. And our business has really grown on the backs of the growth of Ben and Jerry’s and their success as a company, so the start of that partnership proves pretty important, important moment in our history. I do think B Corp certification is another one of those moments that we talk about where again, we, we got recognition and got to solidify the the things that were kind of underpinning our business and our DNA to begin with. And then I think the last one, at least from my standpoint, because I’m at the Center for Open Hiring, is the launch of the center. And that occurred just about two years ago. Greyston has obviously been practicing open hiring for many years and has been getting questions over the years of like, how do you do that? That sounds crazy. And so we decided to take that leap and become educators. So we’re not only practicing the model, but we’re teaching others how to do it because we have our brownie business and we’ll continue to grow it. But we can only provide so many opportunities through, through that business and we can maximize our impact in much, much greater way by working with other businesses on identifying the opportunities in their organizations where they can remove barriers to employment. And so this sort of more recent event of us taking the plunge to scale our mission, and replicate the model, I think is a pretty important moment in our history. And we’re excited to see what comes of it and what partnerships we develope and ultimately, who we are able to impact by working with businesses nationwide and globally, on removing barriers to employment and hopefully creating a more inclusive and equitable economy.
Benn Marine [37:43]
Thank you so much for joining us. Definitely check out Greyston’s website at greyston.org to learn more about open hiring and access those resources that Sarah mentioned. If you have a wicked sweet tooth and wanted support Greyston’s mission, head on over to greystonbakery.org to order up some tasty treats. They have some great brownie gift boxes too, perfect for special occasions, or let’s be real, solving that pesky chocolate hankering. As always, I have all the links in the show notes, which you can find at responsiblydifferent.com. If you’re enjoying this podcast, be sure to subscribe wherever you listen and leave us a review. A quick update on our B Corp journey. We’re currently in that time of year where we are selecting our health insurance plans to offer to our team. And one of the things that comes up on the B impact assessment is ensuring that there is explicit coverage for transgender individuals. Now I know how hard this is to navigate because I myself am a trans man and I don’t even fully understand the laws and what has to be written how to make sure my medical needs are covered just like anyone else. So we’re reaching out to some local resources, and we’ll share what we find in the show notes for this episode. Up next on Responsibly Different, I talked to one of the Co-CEOs of B Corp certified Badger Balm.
Rebecca Hamilton [38:59]
I’m really driven by the impact that we can have as a business, that’s what I’m excited about. That’s why I came back to Badger and being a family driven business,we have the freedom to do that.
Benn Marine [39:12]
We’re all in this together. Till next time, be Responsibly Different.
This is a production of Dirigo Collective. Music composed by our own Kevin Oates. You can follow us on social media @dirigocollective or visit our corner of the internet at dirigocollective.com