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Inclusion Revolution: Using Hiring to Create Opportunities and Systems Change

Companies are changing the way they hire in ways that can create social value. The Body Shop has introduced innovative hiring practices to create opportunities and inclusion for people who have been excluded from the workforce. This approach also makes business sense, as many companies struggle to recruit new employees. Companies can turn to candidate pools they may not have looked at before: refugees, people with disabilities, the formerly incarcerated, veterans, single parents, and other groups who have been marginalized.

The Body Shop North America began a pilot in 2019 and has found that inclusive hiring has both increased productivity and retention. Given the “Great Resignation”, inclusive hiring is a great mechanism for creating social value. Giving people a second chance through inclusive hiring benefits society and makes business sense. 

Like with many aspects of change and transformation, it’s helpful to look at the language:

Open Hiring

The Body Shop is making history by using the Open Hiring model in North America, hiring people who have been excluded from the workplace and providing them with training and wrap around services which allow them to be successful in the workplace. Open Hiring means there are no formal interviews, no background checks or resumes. The Open Hiring model was pioneered by Greyston, a bakery which was founded with an Open Hiring policy: anyone would be hired no matter what their background. Anyone is welcome to put their name on a list to be called when a position becomes available. Greyston trains people to work hard, facilitates their entry into the workplace, and then promotes their advancement to other companies. The only requirement for work is that employees be able to work legally in the country and be able to lift a certain amount of weight.

Greyston has also opened up a center to train business on how to pilot Open Hiring programs. Companies learn how to provide services to employees, by working with non-profits and social workers who can help support those entering the workforce. Greyston has developed hubs in New York City, Westchester and Rochester which can support other employers and nonprofits working with this model.  

This year, Greyston celebrates its 40th anniversary and the 2,000 people whose lives they have transformed. 

The Body Shop now uses Open Hiring for all of its permanent hiring in North America. They have decided to “focus on a person’s potential rather than their history, making work more accessible for those who may have been excluded from the opportunity of employment.”  The Body Shop hired 733 seasonal employees using Open Hiring, of which ten percent have remained with the company. The company partners with non-profits to provide a wide range of services, including job readiness training, transport assistance, food access, shelter, legal support, financial well-being education, and wardrobe.

Training is a key part of the work around adopting Open Hiring. Susan Leger Ferarro, the founder of the training organization G3, has been partnering with The Body Shop led by Nykeba King, Director of Global Inclusion and Belonging since December 2019 creating a Global Inclusive Hiring model. According to Leger Ferraro, “Training up the entire organization to effectively work with a diverse population is the way to build a sustainable inclusive culture. It’s not only the new team members which are added, it’s the entire system that gets to be reimagined and recreated.” 

Values-led Hiring

Ben & Jerry’s, which purchases brownies from Greyston to make its iconic ice cream, has pioneered values-led hiring. Ben & Jerry’s is a values-led business, taking a stand on a wide range of issues from supporting dairy farmers to promoting fair trade, climate justice, and peace-building. Owned by Unilever, Ben & Jerry’s hiring model is informed by its values. The ice cream maker partners with organizations such as Vermont works for Women and Salvation Farms to empower and support its open hires.      

Path Making

Greyston’s founder, Bernie Glassman, a NASA scientist turned Buddhist leader, built Greyston with the value of Path making. This Buddhist concept means that we are all on a path. Open Hiring and Values-led hiring open up paths for individuals, families, communities and companies. When Greyston was established in 1982 its goal was to end poverty in Southwest Yonkers, outside of New York City. Now, 40 years later, poverty still exists in the community but what Greyston has done is nothing short of revolutionary – it has addressed the root causes of poverty and provided its employees with pathways to a different future. Now Body Shop America is adopting Open Hiring, paving the way for transformation.    

 A wide range of sectors are ripe for inclusive hiring practices, from restaurants to technology companies. Please share your company or sector experiences with Open Hiring.   


Deborah Leipziger

Deborah Leipziger

She is Consultant on Social Innovation, Sustainability, and Human Rights, Lecturer, Senior Fellow, Institute for Social Innovation, Babson College, USA, Founder, The Lexicon of Change

Owned by: Institute of Directors, India

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    Deborah Leipziger

    Author. Advisor. Sustainability Expert. Lecturer

    Author, Consultant on Social Innovation, Sustainability, and Human Rights, Lecturer, Senior Fellow, Institute for Social Innovation, Babson College, USA, Founder, The Lexicon of Change

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