The US labor market is in turmoil, with many companies scrambling to find employees, the unemployment rate continues to fall, and with Covid-related benefits, employees have some leverage in the search for better wages and conditions. Some market watchers see it as a long-awaited correction to lower-paying jobs at wealthy companies, while others point to the record number of women leaving the workforce as a result of childcare shortages, disrupted school schedules, and other consequences of the pandemic.
While this disruption appears to be caused by multiple factors and behaviors, the COVID-19 job market is not showing any signs of stabilizing soon — which means many companies may need to take a close look at their wages, benefits, and other employee services to differentiate themselves from other employers.
One hiring practice that may help close this gap for job seekers and businesses is Open Hiring, a recruitment model started by Greyston founder Bernie Glassman in 1982. By hiring anyone who applies for a job, no questions asked, companies with a policy communicate Open recruitment with people who have faced barriers at work but are looking for a stable job. Companies have found benefit because workers are usually more loyal and motivated to keep their jobs, while employees gain new skills and community connections that help them both on and off the job.
The Greyston Foundation, through the Greyston Employment Opportunity Center (GEOC) and through its bakery, Greyston Bakery, has shared the open recruitment model with many other companies, both large and small. Among the companies that have had success with Open Hiring is The Body Shop North America, which has piloted the program at its own distribution center and has since launched the program to hire new employees at its retail stores as part of a broader initiative focused on inclusion and equity.
To learn more about how Open Hiring benefits The Body Shop and why the company decided to expand the program, I reached out to Nicholas Debray, president of The Body Shop Americas, who shared the following responses to my research into purpose-based businesses. .
Christopher Marques: How did the open recruitment process evolve and expand at The Body Shop North America? What is the latest move and why has the company decided to expand now?
Nicholas Debray: We first introduced Open Hiring back in 2019 at our Distribution Center and were impressed with the very positive response. Due to the program’s success, we are expanding Open Hiring across retail stores in the US and Canada for entry-level seasonal hires in 2020. Now, in 2021 and into 2022, we continue to expand efforts to make Open Hiring a permanent hiring model for all customer advisors and entry-level positions in retail stores. and distribution centers.
We also take our open recruitment practices a step further by recruiting and accommodating job candidates specifically who face recruitment barriers, which include three core components:
- Partnerships with local nonprofits to recruit candidates who have had difficulty obtaining employment in the past.
- The employee needs a receipt form that will help us, along with our partners, provide comprehensive support services to new employees. The form allows HR staff to learn about the employee during the onboarding process and helps identify any needs the employee may need to be successful—such as housing, transportation, and financial literacy—and then connect them to The Body Shop’s employee assistance program for support.
- New training courses for employees at all levels which we hope will facilitate more inclusion in our work environments and help employees to upgrade their interpersonal skills.
Marquis: What benefits have you seen to your business and communities from open hiring? Why encourage other companies to adopt it too? Are other brands within the Natura & Co family using or considering open recruitment?
Debray: When you give people access to something they’ve been struggling to find, like work, they’ll work hard to keep it. In our case, we saw an overall improvement in both retention And productivity. In fact, at a time when many employers, especially retailers and warehouses, are scrambling to find employees, we have filled all the positions we have available. Several employees said that just getting a second chance gave them a reason to be excited about going to work.
I would encourage other companies to adopt Open Hiring not only because of the way it can transform your organization for the better, but because of the opportunity it offers candidates to change their lives through hiring. Choosing to focus on people’s potential rather than their history, we’ve developed a culture of openness and trust, and we’ve helped many people who have struggled at work in the past feel safe at work.
I’m proud to report on a recent update to expand the program globally as well: The Body Shop is expanding the practice to our stores and distribution centers in the UK and Australia from this month (October 2021).
Marquis: How do you identify nonprofits to partner with for targeted recruitment of marginalized communities?
Debray: The Body Shop has chosen to work with nonprofit partners who can take off immediately and provide comprehensive support services to our new employees, so we’ve partnered with organizations that have a deep understanding and a clear history of helping individuals from a variety of backgrounds. Each organization helps the unemployed for different reasons – from experiencing homelessness and poverty to recently in prison. Services may include work readiness classes, transportation assistance, one-on-one counseling, access to food and shelter, legal support, financial wellbeing education, and wardrobe and hygiene products.
We work with 10 partners across the US and Canada to support 38 stores in addition to our own distribution center. Among the US partners is Chrysalis, which focuses on helping low-income people. Wake LRC, which helps people return to society after imprisonment; and city relief and renovation project, both of which support the homeless population.
Marquis: How did you develop a Joyful Collective form that helps identify any needs an employee may have, including housing, transportation, and financial literacy? Does the employee assistance program link them to local resources as appropriate?
Debray: Through discussions with our teams, we have received feedback from the pilots that additional support is needed to recruit new employees to succeed. We developed the form in response to getting to know each employee during the onboarding process. The model allows the employee assistance program to understand how best to provide support and, if necessary, yes, provide local resources.
Marquis: Will all employees undergo the new comprehensive training program designed to build personal skills and leadership capabilities? How is this designed to support extended Open Hiring?
Debray: Employees at all levels – managers, client advisors, and all open staff – will undergo a certain level of training, allowing us to continue our culture of trust and honesty. Some lessons will focus on the importance of comprehensive hiring and management practices, while others cover leadership without prejudice and building customer service skills through real communication. We want to raise the soft skills of our employees and train everyone to be leaders.
Marquis: Does The Body Shop offer other employee support or community outreach programs that you would like to highlight? Would that be of particular interest to the B Corp community?
Debray: We recently instituted an increase in the wage rate to ensure that workers are better able to meet their financial needs. Going forward, all customer advisors and distribution center employees in the United States and Canada will start at $15 an hour.