The Body Shop’s Open Hiring program is designed to remove bias by foregoing questions around educational requirements, background checks and ditching the traditional interview process, instead only asking applicants three simple questions:
- Are you legally authorised to work in Australia?
- Can you lift up to 11kgs and work an eight-hour shift in one day?
- Are you happy to work with customers?’ The latter is not an essential requirement, however.
Michelle Nolan has been appointed to the newly-created role of inclusion and belonging manager at The Body Shop Australia and will oversee the rollout of this program.
She said that improving access to employment strongly aligns with The Body Shop’s mission to fight for a fairer world.
“Open Hiring focuses on a person’s potential rather than their history, and we’ve seen it can be a powerful way to find talented and loyal employees. A program like this gives people equal opportunity in a real way,” Nolan said.
She believes it will make it much easier for marginalised individuals to enter the workforce.
“A young carer, for example, might not have had access to create a resume, but they have the intent to work. Our view is that a young carer is an amazing individual in that they balance so many different things at such a young age, they make amazing employees. So we’re trying to remove that first barrier to allow them access to the job straight away so that they can be meaningful and purposeful,” Nolan told Inside Retail.
Up to 438 casual positions will be made available at The Body Shop this Christmas and while some of these will be filled by returning Christmas casuals, the remainder of these award wage roles will be up for grabs through Open Hiring.
Australia is the first country in Asia Pacific to introduce the program, following a successful trial in the retailer’s US stores and distribution centres, which saw 733 seasonal employees hired and an improvement in overall retention and number of units per hour produced.
The program was created in partnership with Greyston Bakery, the company behind the brownies in Ben & Jerry’s ice-cream and a pioneer in inclusive hiring. From the outset, the business has focused on providing employment opportunities for people that struggle to get work, such as those who have come through the prison system, “no questions asked”.
“They’ve had enormous success through loyalty, retention and productivity,” Nolan said.
How it works
Candidates are invited to apply via The Body Shop careers website and according to location, they are allocated to a nearby store for a face-to-face meeting (where possible) or a video or phone chat with the store manager.
Nolan stresses that it is not an interview, rather an opportunity for the candidate to better understand the requirements of the role and consider whether it suits them.
“The store manager goes through the inherent requirements of the role … they will invite the candidate to ask questions but they don’t question the applicant.
“If they say ‘yes’, they have the job.”
Nolan said The Body Shop will do its best to accommodate candidates where possible but there are some requirements that are non-negotiable in seasonal roles like these, such as being available to work over the Christmas period.
Of course, a hiring process without background checks could be seen as a risky move, particularly in customer-facing roles such as these. Nolan said The Body Shop will be working closely with NGOs to understand any particular issues an individual has that they should be aware of and figure out the best way to support them.
“The support can be offered in a number of different ways such as funding, physical support of a person in store or counselling. We will also ensure that the individual can disclose in confidence anything they think would impact them in their role,” she said.
The Body Shop plans to continue the Open Hiring scheme for Christmas casuals each year in Australia and may expand it to other countries in Asia Pacific in due course. Nolan believes it will support richer diversity within the business.
“The Body Shop is an environment that has a willingness to accept diversity. Society is changing so rapidly and we as an organisation need to be representative of society; we need to keep changing at the same pace so therefore our programs need to change,” Nolan said.
“Through this, we will be more representative of society, and with that comes creativity, innovation, new thoughts, new ways of doing things, empathy and acceptance, and they’re amazing things for a business to have.”