Social Innovation

Greyston CEO visits Resilience Community Impact Program to discuss open hiring model

A pioneering social enterprise, Greyston has been providing jobs to people in New York who face barriers to employment, no questions asked, since 1982. Without any checks or interviews Greyston hires the next person on the waiting list with the aim to give people a chance who normally don’t. “An inclusive economy begins with removing unconscious bias,” explains President and CEO Mike Brady. He visited the Impact Program’s Resilience Community to explore common goals and ways to cooperate.

Greyston Bakery bake 35,000 pounds of brownies every day while supporting personal, social and professional success for their bakers and neighbors with community programs. Their customers include reputable companies such as Ben & Jerry’s. At the same time, Greston hopes to spread their way of thinking and working by means of teaching future business leaders and by demonstrating why their ‘open hiring’ is effective by means of research, and how it could work in different labor markets.

How to achieve an inclusive labor market is also an important issue the Impact Program addresses by stimulating research and cooperation with societal partners under the umbrella of the Impact theme Empowering the Resilient Society. With great interest the Resilience research community received Mike Brady together with Paulina Snijders, Vice-President of Tilburg University’s Executive Board.

Living Lab

Tilburg University’s resilience community already has a track record in both research and societal impact concerning inclusive employment: at Tranzo, for instance, Evelien Brouwers explores how stigmatization affects the work and life of people with mental health problems. Nethlab, the Network on Health and Labor, combines expertise from several Tilburg University departments and institutes to investigate employment, labor participation and health issues from a social perspective and explore solutions together with societal partners. In a ‘Living Lab’ that includes various Dutch cities, Ruud Muffels and colleagues are currently investigating new ways of social assistance to unemployed people (including no assistance at all and rewarding) to help them enter the labor market.

Open hiring in the Netherlands?

<i>Paulina Snijders and Mike Brady</i>

Paulina Snijders and Mike Brady

Would the open hiring model of Greyston work in the Netherlands too? Perhaps a Living Lab would give the answer, perhaps it can be implemented on a smaller scale in individual companies, or for specific groups such as refugees. It clearly is an intriguing question that gets the hearts and minds of the resilience researchers going. Business cards have been exchanged with both Mike Brady and Jos Verhoeven of the Dutch Start Foundation which already supports Greyston in order to create work for people who are for some reason not able to find a job for themselves.

The story will no doubt be continued.