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Cosmetics Company Experiments with “Open Hiring”

By Michael Klazema on 2/25/2020

One of the significant trends in background checks is the rise of ban the box legislation, which bars employers from asking questions about criminal history on job applications and in interviews. Often, ban the box laws go one step further, requiring employers to delay employee background checks until after they make a conditional offer of employment. Proponents of ban the box claim that it creates a more open hiring environment in which individuals with a criminal history have an opportunity to prove themselves and their qualifications to prospective employers. Ban the box is nothing compared to the new “open hiring” model from the international cosmetics company The Body Shop.

Founded in the United Kingdom in 1976, The Body Shop International Limited is known for cosmetic products such as mascara, lipstick, skincare, hair care, fragrances, and bath products. Today, the business has approximately 3,000 stores spanning more than 65 countries.

Recently, The Body Shop made a splash with its new hiring policy. Not only is the business doing away with questions about criminal history, but it is also eliminating all job interviews, drug tests, and employee background checks. The Body Shop is replacing these hallmarks of the employee screening process with a “three question” system. Those questions are:

  • Are you authorized to work in the U.S.?
  • Can you stand for up to eight hours?
  • Can you lift more than 50 pounds?

The Body Shop has claimed that it will hire any candidate who can meet these basic criteria. So, if a job opens with the company, the first person who can answer “Yes” to all three questions gets the position.

So far, this open hiring policy is not company-wide. The Body Shop piloted it at a North Carolina distribution center starting late last year. However, the company was impressed by the results, particularly regarding employee retention. Statistics for the pilot program showed that monthly turnover dipped 60 percent at the affected distribution center since the new policy went into effect.

Because of these results, The Body Shop reportedly has plans to roll out the three-question open hiring policy to the rest of its retail operations this summer. Question one will be tweaked for international arms.

More businesses may adopt such a policy in the future. While The Body Shop has received a lot of press for the practice, the business is not the innovator behind it: that title goes to Greyston Bakery, a New York-based business that sells baked goods in bulk to stores such as Whole Foods. The Greyston Bakery website notes that the company has been hiring “anyone who needed a job” since 1982 without any resumes, interviews, or employee background checks.

As the first global corporation to adopt this model, The Body Shop will serve as proof of concept for whether “open hiring” can work or hiring without usual due diligence practices is a liability.


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