Greyston Bakery's mission is sweeter than a baked good, and puts a smile on our face before we even bite into one of their awesome products. They "bake brownies to hire people," not the other way around, creating jobs designed to foster community economic renewal and personality transformation through a system they call PathMaking.
The founder Roshi Bernie Glassman is a Zen Master, and incorporates Buddhist philosophies and methods into the fabric of the company. The bakery, founded in 1982 and based in Yonkers, New York, has an open-door hiring policy. Glassman saw that employment was the key to breaking free from poverty, and so founded a bakery that's open to hiring just about anyone – regardless of social barrier, education, work history or criminal records.
Jobs at Greyston are designed to teach techniques that lead to self-sufficiency and personal growth through introspection. Greyston employees rate the quality of each of the 5 aspects of their Mandala – mind, body, health, spirit and self – on a worksheet, and use it to gauge personal growth and life progress.
The Greyston "Lifeplan" helps employees integrate these skills into their everyday lives, solving areas of struggle or conflict before creating specific long- and short-term goals to work toward and monitoring progress. The goal is to provide a ripple effect of development throughout the entire community.
Glassman worked for years in Socially Engaged Buddhism, teaching Zen, founding the Zen Peacemakers and authoring a book. He also found time to earn a PhD in Applied Math, bringing a sharp analytical acumen to his current bakery endeavors that allows its continued success.
So far, the company's been very successful, both in social impact and as a profitable business. By churning out consistently delicious, high-quality treats – especially their brownies, which popular ice cream brand Ben & Jerry's has used in their products since the '80s – Greyston garners enough business to be profitable both financially and socially.
That's a company mission that's not hard to swallow.