At the Greyston Foundation, our guiding light has always been our unwavering commitment to social impact. Today, we’d like to share our appreciation and reflections on a thought-provoking piece by esteemed author Seth Godin titled “Avoid False Proxies.” In his work, Godin not only highlights the perils of false proxies in recruitment but also underscores the importance of focusing on useful proxies. We’re thrilled to explore how his insights mirror our philosophy and practice of Open Hiring.
Unpacking False Proxies in Hiring
In the context of hiring and employment, “false proxies” refer to characteristics or attributes that are often, but inaccurately, used to predict someone’s job performance or capability. These can include attributes such as race, gender, physical attractiveness, the prestige of one’s alma mater, or even the confidence displayed during an interview.
Challenging Traditional Proxies in Recruitment
At the heart of Open Hiring is our belief in every individual’s potential to learn, grow, and meaningfully contribute to our collective journey. We offer jobs to anyone who walks through our doors — no questions asked, no background checks, and no interviews. We entirely disregard the usual proxies and focus simply on one’s ability to do the work that needs doing. And we show you how to do it!
By confronting the traditional proxies in recruitment — factors such as race, gender, charisma, attractiveness, and alma mater — we reinforce our commitment to prioritizing attitude and inherent human potential.
More useful proxies, like motivation, learning agility, and problem-solving ability, are often discerned when the individual is on the job, adjusting, learning, and making contributions in real-world scenarios.
Success with Open Hiring: Greyston Bakery and The Body Shop
Our experience as a social enterprise substantiates this perspective and is brought to life daily at the Greyston Bakery. In a recent episode of the Akimbo podcast (listen here), Seth Godin acknowledges our success and the effectiveness of this model, not just at the Greyston Bakery but also with our replication partner The Body Shop.
“The Body Shop, a retail chain based in the UK, was having trouble with turnover a few years ago. They decided to adopt Open Hiring, exactly the same system, for their clerks in their retail stores. What they found is that turnover went down 60% and that productivity as measured by sales per square foot, went up 15%.”
Godin asks, “Why don’t all organizations that have low-skilled opportunities use this as a way to hire?” And we’re asking the same.
Your Personal Invite to Challenge the Status Quo
Our vision extends beyond our own operations. We aspire to inspire and encourage other businesses to reflect upon their hiring practices, urging them to shift away from an undue reliance on false proxies and instead focus on inclusivity and true performance and potential. Eliminating bias from the hiring process can help build more inclusive, productive workforces and give people the chance to rewrite their life stories.
This is not a journey we can walk alone. You, our supporters and partners, fuel our efforts and enable us to break down barriers. We call on big and small businesses to join us in this transformative journey. Let’s challenge the status quo and usher in a new era of leadership.
Are you ready to embrace the power of Open Hiring and cultivate genuinely useful proxies in your organization? Reach out to us. Let’s discuss how we can work together to make hiring a tool for your business and societal change.
And to our wonderful community, we invite you to spread the word about Open Hiring. Share our story, share your experiences, and help us widen the circle of opportunity. If you believe in our mission, please donate to support our efforts. Every contribution, big or small, helps us build a world where everyone has the chance to succeed.
Your involvement can change lives.