Society today can be pretty tough on people who have made mistakes. Ex-Inmates who have done their time are finally free to walkaway from jail often feel sincerely afraid and unsure about their futures. Quite honestly, we can’t blame them for feeling this way. Many thoughts run through their minds: will my family still accept me? Will I be able to settle back into society? what if people judge me? Do I still have a place in Life?
It’s no secret that many companies look askance at resumes of former convicts, questioning their integrity and sincerity long before they even give their credentials a serious once-over. It’s tough enough looking for a stable job in this economy, and this kind of discrimination isn’t going to help anyone in the long run.
Thankfully, there are companies looking to change this mindset, and taking the step forward in lending everyone a hand.
Greystone Bakery in Yonkers, New York, has an open-hiring policy that invites residents to apply regardless of social status. your immigration status, criminal records, drug records, or even prior work experience is not the focus, so much as sincerity, dedication, and a strong work ethic is. this bakery churns out 30,000 pounds of delicious brownies ob a daily basis for Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, as well as for the grocery aisles at Whole Foods.
Greystone Bakery’s social-justice policy was founded on the philosophy of Bernie Glassman, an aeronautical engineer who went from expanding the physical knowledge of the skies to expanding the horizons of the self and ind by becoming a Buddhist monk. Glassman founded the bakery in 1982, and has been an inspiration to employees ever since.
“He [Glassman] was a visionary — he thought business success and social justice were two sides of the same coin,” says Mike Brady, the CEO and president of Greyston.
The bakery’s “open-hiring” process is a long, thorough one, but it ensures all hires are given all the opportunities and skills needed to work well. Once an opening is posted, applicants are then added to a waiting list. A brief orientation is given about the nature of the job. A ten-month training program puts potential employees on track and teaches them everything they need to know about the job, and once they show they’re good team players and are dedicated to the work, they become formal employees of Greyston, as well as members of their union.
Critics have also expressed consternation about the bakery having felons for employees, a concern which Brady is keen to dissolve. “We don’t think about it that way,” he says. “We think about it in a way that, whoever it is that’s going to be coming through those doors deserves the same opportunity as someone else. And to place judgement on that person because they might have been a felon would skew our opportunity to perhaps find a very good employee.”
An image has also been circulating on Tumblr, showing a list of companies, with the caption “Here is a list of companies that will hire felons. Please share this and repost if you know of people who are looking to better their lives and work.”
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