A Successful Social Enterprise Essay Sample

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Ethical issues can strengthen both people and the community. Businesses in the community will generate a much more loyal following if they behave in an ethical manner with regard to the community. In this paper I will describe the ethical issues and how those issues may be used in organizational and personal issues, and the association between legal and ethical issues shown in the film, Greyston Bakery. The bakery has operated since 1982 and employs convicted felons and homeless people. The company places the profits into a nonprofit foundation that benefits the entire community (CBS News, 2009).

Film Summary

The film is about Greyston Bakery in Yonkers, New York, which hires otherwise undesirable employees. The bakery operates a nonprofit foundation that returns the profits to the community in various forms (Greyston Bakery, 2012). The foundation supports daycare, computer classes, a clinic, and many other projects. The biggest item sold are the brownies to Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream. They also make cakes and gourmet desserts. The company does not consider itself a business but rather a social enterprise with a two-fold purpose; a social mission, and a profit mission (Liberty Mutual, 2011).

Issues of the Film

Primary Issues

The primary issues are the social enterprise approach to business and the hiring process of the company. The company accepts an ethical duty to the community. The business model is called a social enterprise. The company thinks of itself as a mission to the community, not a business (CBS News, 2009). The company has a liberal hiring policy, called open hiring, and puts the profits into a community foundation. Open hiring is a unique approach to ethically helping people in need. This process allows the business to hire people within the community to provide an opportunity of employment regardless of his or her history (Liberty Mutual, 2010). Using the open hiring process provides hope to the members of the community. Hiring from within the area a business connects itself to the people and community.

Secondary Issues

The secondary issues are the community programs and employee benefits. The Greyston Foundation, where the profits are deposited, sponsors many social programs (Liberty Mutual, 2011). Childcare, computer classes, medical clinics, and housing are a few examples of the good work the foundation is doing. The foundation supports community programs such as housing, health care, and childcare (Liberty Mutual, 2010). In return the relationship with the community will always be supportive. Greyston Bakery is making the world a better place by acting as a role model for businesses to help communities be successful.

External Social Pressures

Pressures Relevant to Organizational Issues

The original vision of the founder set the tone for the bakery’s organizational issues. The open hiring process is a pressure that the organization must deal with. The workers are hired as apprentices and placed on the brownie line. One-half of the workers quit in a relatively short span of time (CBS News, 2009). The high turnover rate could be reduced by instituting a background and reference check on each potential employee. This would reduce turnover rates, improve efficiency, and reduce costs. The company chooses not to do this and still makes a profit, but not as large a monetary profit as it could. The company sees profit in giving an individual the chance to succeed at employment, thereby succeeding in life. The company not only invests in raw materials, ovens, and buildings but also in people. The investment in people pays off by having the employees contribute in a positive way to society by not burdening the system any longer.

Pressures Relevant to Personal Issues

Personal issues relevant to the company are commitment and integrity. These are just two characteristics demanded of employers. Greyston Bakery hires people who may lack these qualities but desire to have them. A person applying for employment at the bakery is not just looking for work but also for way to change his or her life. The company uses an apprenticeship program for employees (Greyston Bakery, 2012). The employees start out doing menial tasks and as their abilities and knowledge grow so to do their responsibilities. The company eases a person into this new life slowly. With the influence the bakery will have to make sure that they abide by all rules so they can keep helping the community. The company sacrifices maximum profits in exchange for doing what it considers is its ethical duty to the employee and community.

Relationship Between Legal and Ethical Issues

The major legal issue that concerns the bakery is the fiduciary responsibility of the board of directors and CEO has to the company and the employees. The board and CEO must balance the vision of the founder with the realities of business. The company cannot make a donation to the foundation unless it remains profitable. The bakery is a for profit business not a nonprofit entity. If it were, there are numerous government regulations to stipulate how the proceeds are spent. Remaining a for-profit business allows the vision of funding the foundation a reality.

The foundation has more liberal rules governing the disbursement of funds. Maintaining the vision of the founder is not a legal mandate, but it serves as an example of how the vision continues into the future. So long as the CEO and foundation board are in compliance with the law, the good work of the bakery will continue. Maintaining the hiring policy exemplifies the company’s commitment to its ethical code and commitment to the people of the community. Ethical issues are not punishable by law, but can be punished by the customer (Trevino & Nelson, 2007). If the company changes the way things are done, the customers can stop buying the baked goods. Following ethical conduct results in a good model for this social enterprise

Conclusion and Summary

The film and subsequent research on Greyston Bakery revealed a company that is a successful social enterprise (Greyston Bakery, 2012). By describing the ethical issues and how they can be used in organizational and personal issues, and the association between legal and ethical issues shown in the film any business can model itself after Greyston Bakery. The issues give the company a purpose in its mission to serve the community. The role of accepting and answering to the social pressures in the community are not easy to emulate. The relationship between legal and ethical issues explains
how a company can go the extra mile to satisfy the customer, employees, and the community.

Boylan, M. (2009). Basic Ethics (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall. CBS News. (2009). Let’Em Eat Cake. Retrieved from http://cbsnews/stories/2004/01/09/60minutes/main592382.shtml Greyston Bakery. (2012). Home Page. Retrieved from http://greystonbakery.com Liberty Mutual. (2011). The Responsibility Project, The Greyston Bakery. Retrieved from http://responsibility-project.libertymutual.com/films-greyston-bakery Trevio, L. K., & Nelson, K. A. (2007). Managing Business Ethics, Straight Talk About How To Do It Right (4th ed.). Danvers, MA: John Wiley & Sons, Inc..

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