Jobs for anyone willing to make a positive change

In a nutshell

Providing employment to anyone prepared to make a positive change.

What’s the issue?

It’s incredibly difficult for people who’ve had a tough start in life – particularly those who have a criminal record or have spent time in prison – to find and hold down regular employment.

What’s the story?

Greyston Bakery in Yonkers, New York, has an open door hiring policy. It doesn’t ask any questions about what its employees did before they walked in and asked for a job. It only requires them to be a person dedicated to making a positive change in their lives.

What are the outcomes and impact?

Over the past 33 years, Greyston has provided employment to more than 2,000 people who would otherwise have been excluded from the workforce because of their background. 84 percent of employees are from low-income communities. By providing jobs and salaries, it has created financial security for these individuals and their families.

For 28 of those years, Greyston has provided all the brownie pieces used in Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Fudge Brownie ice cream, helping the brand to fulfil its social mission. In 2014, Greyston baked 4.5MM pounds of brownies alone. Through the partnership with Ben & Jerry’s – and today with hundreds of other customers – Greyston has grown from a start-up to a $18m community institution. Greyston is also a certified B Corp.

In addition, the profits generated by the bakery have enabled the Greyston Foundation to build 300 units of affordable housing for low-income families and run childcare and workforce development programmes for its employees.

What are the future plans?

Ben & Jerry’s has a long-term commitment to Greyston. The collaboration is about to enter its fourth decade and creates millions of pounds of brownies and dollars of revenue for the bakery each year. Along the way, the partnership provides Ben & Jerry’s with the very finest brownies for our top-selling Chocolate Fudge Brownie ice cream.

In 2016, the Greyston and Ben & Jerry’s factories began an employee swap programme between the companies’ respective New York and Vermont facilities. Our first swap was a huge success and there are plans for further in-person collaborations in 2017. As Ben & Jerry’s Factory Director, Rob Bellezza says: “There’s nothing quite like meeting people where they are, shaking their hands, and listening to their stories.”

In Summary

The success of Greyston as a social enterprise shows how business can be a force for social good. By believing in the power of the individual to make a positive change, lives and communities can be changed for the better. Baker Andra Gray says: “The bakery didn’t change my life – I changed my life. Greyston put me in a position to help me change my life.”

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