The Open hiring model allows more people the opportunity to work and make a living. They also have the chance to prove they are employable and trustworthy. This is why it’s important for employers to show this can be a positive influence on society. The open hiring model addresses the injustices of society and the imbalances therein. This is a non discriminatory framework that precedes ‘ban the box’ and ‘fair chance hiring’ formats. Ban the box is seen as having it’s origins in the late 90’s in Hawaii. Thereafter gaining momentum in other States post the 2007/2009 recession. All 3 models are critical to addressing the tough and sometimes over zealous sentencing and incarceration terms.
Background checks also proliferated following the 9/11 terror attacks. The Fair Chance Hiring Initiative found it’s origins in Philadelphia for the benefit of time served Philadelphians. Philadelphia’s commitment to inclusion and diversity works towards fulfilment and opportunity. Further non discriminatory integration supports a workforce which mirrors the City’s residents. From Mid 2017 any employer filling a vacancy is reimbursed after 6 months. Employee qualification is a Philadelphian released within the previous five years. Those employees must wor a minimum of 21 hours a week and paid a minimum $12.10 hourly. Reimbursement is $5 an hour to 40 hrs a week with a cap at 1,000 hours annually.
The Open Hiring® Model is widely credited to Greyston Bakery (Yonkers, New York) established 1982. Individuals can sign up and once a position becomes available are immediately hired. No CV’s or resumes required, no interviews and no background checks. For over 38 years Greyston Bakery have been promoting self sufficiency and community wellness. Those hired by Greyston benefit from an apprenticeship program which leads to an entry level position. The bakery not only sells it’s own brownies at Whole foods but also supplies Ben & Jerry’s with brownies. Greyston believe the open hiring model is both an extraordinary and revolutionary idea and can bring about meaningful change.
Trust is a rare and valuable commodity in business but which can transform lives and the wider community. The ability to hire people with criminal records is important for many reasons. Many times, people with records are the only ones who are willing to take an entry-level position that nobody else wants. The open hiring policies provide a pathway for social welfare recipients to escape poverty by getting steady employment. Worth bearing in mind is that formerly incarcerated individuals, by default, are deemed unemployable by many.
There are no laws that prevent employers from discriminating against applicants based on their arrest records. This is because there are many companies who have “zero-tolerance” policies in place for anyone who has been arrested, even if they were never convicted of the crime or served time in jail. These policies often disqualify someone prior to interview and prevents them from getting a chance to fulfil the opportunity. The Open Hiring Model is a proven way to promote inclusivity and social justice. This practice makes it possible for anyone who has the pre requisite skills with or without prior experience in a specific sector. Greyston Bakery runs their business this way and employs formerly incarcerated individuals and those with criminal records who would otherwise be unemployable.
There are a number of reasons, some complex some predictable, as to why a life descends in to turmoil. such as an abusive childhood, the death of a loved one and/or peer pressure, job loss/financial and drug dependency. Banning the box is one example of an open hiring model that promotes inclusivity. It’s designed for people who want to find employment with a company but have previous arrests or convictions on their record. These projects are becoming more mainstream and are proven to reduce recidivism. A study from the National Employment Law Project found that “banning the box on job applications had a positive impact across racial groups, with African-Americans experiencing a larger reduction in unemployment than whites.”
In America, there is an implicit bias for people with criminal histories or arrest records. It can be seen through employers reluctance to hire based on past events. As of January 2017, more than 100 U.S. cities and counties, 20 states, and more than 150 companies have embraced some form of ban-the-box legislation. The open hiring model isn’t only social justice or equity for those with criminal records, but an economic issue too. Helping those released from prison promotes community and re integration. The Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) measure prohibits an employer from making employment decisions based on past convictions/arrests.
Bernie Glassman was the founder of Greyston Bakery and has been hailed as a visionary. Bernie was a Zen Buddhist teacher born in Brooklyn and in 1982 lived with his students in Greyston Mansion North of Manhattan. In order to provide employment for his students he opened a small cafe/bakery in 1982 together with the Zen Community of New York (ZCNY). The cafe was successful in it’s immediate ambitions to to support the students but Bernie saw further scope. His beliefs drew him towards his immediate community and an affinity with the homeless, unemployed and disadvantaged. These aspirations were fulfilled when the Mayor of Yonkers offered Bernie the opportunity to move his business to Yonkers. An abandoned Lasagna factory would become the new home of the Greyston Bakery following the sale of the Greyston Mansion. The factory was in one of Yonkers most troubled neighborhoods with the highest per capita homeless population in the country.