The Case for Open Hiring: New York Bakery Nixes Background Checks, Skills Tests

Employers, landlords, and hiring managers all know that the surest way to build the best team or find the ideal tenants is to find out all you can about your applicants before making leasing or hiring decisions. The goal? To weed out the bad apples, minimize the risk to your bottom line, and be profitable.

Greyston Bakery’s open-hiring policy might seem like a huge risk—one no conscientious executive would make, but the results have been eyebrow-raising at least, inspiring at best. Read the full article, published on, here.

What is Open Hiring?

In current chief executive Mike Brady’s words, when he does the work of filling open positions, “There’s no skills test, no background check, no interview, no reference checks.” All prospective employees must do is put their names on a list. Regardless of criminal records, homelessness, long-term unemployment, mental health, or disability, Brady hires all and the business’s 100 employees generate $20 million in revenues supplying Ben & Jerry’s and Whole Foods with brownies and cookies.

The Philosophy Behind Open Hiring

Training and orientation is a part of every new job despite the skills an applicant might bring to the table, and one of Greyston’s bakery trainers, thirty-nine-year-old Dion Drew had this to say about the bakery’s philosophy: “We’re trying to show the world it’s all right to hire someone who was incarcerated.” Drew himself spent four years in prison on drug charges.

Despite what it might seem, employee expectations are not lax. As Brady says, “It’s not a program. It’s a business.” Employees who can’t meet the standards are let go, but the benefits for good performance are great.

When is Open Hiring Feasible?

According to the article, the concept of open hiring was developed by Zen master Roshi Bernie Glassman, who found the bakery with the belief that employment would help to lift people out of poverty, especially those with criminal records or other employment-inhibiting histories.

Brady, however, acknowledges that the practice is simply not applicable to certain, highly complicated or regulated jobs, but asserts that most companies should have at least one position that could be filled that way.


How do you feel about open hiring? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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