“We don’t hire people to bake brownies, we bake brownies to hire people.”

Heather Van Dusen, who is the director of  “B-Corps Fellows Program” and the “B-Corps on Campus initiative,” spoke about B-Corps certification and one example she showed was Greyston Bakery, Inc., which interested me and made me want to learn more about the company. Greyston in Yonkers, New York is a for-profit social enterprise that bakes brownies and cookies with a good will. They are famously known as Ben & Jerry’s brownie supplier, which we can say are tasty. Greyston Bakery is a company that has become B-Corp certified and scored a 147/200 on their impact assessment based on their contribution towards social, environmental, and economic sustainability.

If you would like to learn a little more about Greyston as well as their relationship with Ben & Jerry’s:

Some of the amazing done by this company is there committed to the Triple Bottom Line with intentions towards job creation and personal development (social), financial support for Greyston Foundation, which is a non-profit aimed to aid people who are considered at the bottom of the ladder, and mitigation of environmental impact. I think what this organization is doing is magnificent because they are actually dedicated to making a change in the world and not using “sustainability” as a marketing tool. What I really like about Greyston is that is that they have an open-hiring policy provided to the people of Yonkers, NY regardless of work history because they believe that “We don’t hire people to bake brownies, we bake brownies to hire people.” Their open-hiring policy hires men and women who have little to no work experience, whom many have histories of homelessness, incarceration, substance abuse, welfare dependence, domestic violence or illiteracy. I think this is a good opportunity for them to open doors for people who may not have the chance due to their circumstances, but Greyston believes in them.

I think Greyston giving people an opportunity to better themselves that is how I think our society should work for people who have been involved with the criminal system. The type of work they are doing is one I applaud because people who have histories of these hardships should be given a chance to better themselves because if our society shuns people away from opportunities due to their circumstances, we are not shaping a sustainable society for everyone to live in. As the Wholes Food case talks about “shared destiny,” I think it does not only happen within a company, but also affects the greater community. There are ripple effects to our overall culture and society even if it seems like a small decision. They provide employees with more than 80% health insurance premiums paid, 5% profits shared with employees, and 6 plus weeks of maternity leave. Greyston proudly forms a living community for their employees and mentor them to better the local community. Who wouldn’t want to work for a company that impacts our society in a positive way?

Greyston is also 100% dedicated to environmental and social effects as well from have a 100% LEED certified factory. They also dedicate most of their profits to community development. Overall, I think B-Corps like Greyston Bakery are on a mission with sustainable values wanting to “bake” a healthy world for everyone to live in, one individual and community at a time.

Do you think it is possible for other organizations to actually do this within the systems we have today?

Do you think B-Corps like Greyston Bakery can be effective in making a change in our society?

Featured Image: http://www.benjerry.com/files/live/sites/us/files/flavors/core-tour-assets/east-coast/Week%2016/Greyston/GreystonHeader.jpg


6 thoughts on ““We don’t hire people to bake brownies, we bake brownies to hire people.””

  1. I think it’s admirable how much Greyston Bakery seems to take into account its societal influence and seems to make every attempt to provide a positive impact. I wonder what the specific challenges are for a company to uphold an open-hiring policy, utilize LEED certified factories, and donate to communities.


  2. Reblogged this on FUNKI SHUI BLOG and commented:
    Greystone Bakery business model is really inspirational. They open hire which means anyone who applys, gets hired. Check out this video. It would be nice if companies in East Oakland and other inner cities had businesses like this. #socialenterprise


  3. It seems like a pretty unique idea. On the one hand, Greyston is cutting expenses by hiring workers that have no other option so they don’t have to pay them much. The money that they save on salaries gets funneled to worker benefits and the triple bottom line initiatives that you mentioned. This reminds me of my first blog post I did on prison wages and how companies that employ prisoners & ex-convicts are able to maintain cost advantages and produce certain goods more efficiently than the private sector. Would this become a problem if you heard that Greyston’s cost advantages were so significant that they started to crowd out private companies?


  4. How do they deal with people who may “hard to employ.” in other words, maybe they have mental health or substance abuse issues? Or, having spent time in the prison system, they may used to certain behaviors or dynamics that cause problems for being productive?

    Do they invest in retraining? In on-site support services?


  5. It seems to me that Grayston is probably a lot like Bowie’s idea of a Kantian workplace. You could do more with that perspective, either looking for more by Bowie OR by others using Kant.

    Also, I have one of their boxes they use for packaging in my office if you want to see what it looks like. A former student gave me a brownie gift.

    In terms of policy for the white paper, there are two broad areas. One is B-Corps or the laws behind them. The other is the “hard to employ” that Grayston is addressing. The effects of decades of the drug war as policy, of institutionalized racism, of stagnant wages in the lower end of the US economy, the rise of criminal background checks, and maybe other factors have made it much harder for former convicts and/or substance abusers to integrate into the economy. There are policy angles you can pursue in this topic.


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