British cosmetics, skin care and perfume company The Body Shop has implemented an innovative recruitment process called "open hiring," where applicants do not need to provide a resume or attend an interview but instead need to answer three questions. A recent analysis shows that the method has worked in promoting inclusivity and diversity while reducing employee turnover. The Body Shop was not the first to adopt the strategy, as it was developed in the 1980s by Bernie Glassman, founder of Greyston Bakery in New York. Glassman's approach aimed to help address unemployment by hiring anybody who walked in, such as immigrants, people with disabilities or little education, and the formerly incarcerated. This method required comprehensive wrap-around services to help employees thrive in the company and in future employment.
The company started the open hiring practice in 2019 with seasonal roles at a North Carolina distribution center. It officially adopted the practice in 2020 and later expanded it to include seasonal in-store customer assistants on three or four-month contracts. Sales in stores with open-hired employees have risen by over 10 percent, and retention has improved, with 37 percent of seasonal employees hired through the initiative staying on under permanent contracts.
Open hiring also brings significant social responsibility to the company. In 2022, 68 percent of those hired through the program in the US and 84 percent of those in the UK faced at least one barrier to employment. Some 68 percent were people of color, up from 55 percent in 2021. The success of The Body Shop's open hiring strategy raises the question of when more companies will adopt the same approach.
The open hiring strategy is closely connected to the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as it promotes inclusivity, diversity, and decent work for all. The Body Shop's initiative has a direct connection to SDG 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth, which aims to promote sustained, inclusive, and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment, and decent work for all. Open hiring can reduce inequalities by allowing people who are often excluded from the job market, such as older people, people with disabilities, or people with a criminal record, to find work. Furthermore, SDG 10: Reduced Inequalities aims to reduce inequalities within and among countries, which can be addressed by open hiring practices that promote diversity, inclusivity, and equal opportunities for everyone.
Open hiring also aligns with the vision of a global society that prioritizes sustainable development, social responsibility, and inclusive practices. The United Nations' 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development envisions a world where people live in peace, prosperity, and with dignity on a healthy planet. Achieving this vision requires cooperation from governments, the private sector, civil society, and citizens. Open hiring is an example of how the private sector can contribute to this vision by promoting inclusive and sustainable employment practices that benefit both the business and society as a whole.
Civil society plays a crucial role in advancing the adoption of open hiring practices. Non-profit organizations can advocate for the implementation of such initiatives and provide support to companies that are interested in adopting open hiring. Civil society can also monitor and evaluate the impact of open hiring to ensure that it continues to promote inclusivity, diversity, and social responsibility. This can help to ensure that open hiring practices are implemented widely, benefiting more people and contributing to a more sustainable and inclusive global society.