Posted: May 25th, 2022

Greyston Bakery Organization of the report

Greyston Bakery Case Study

Organization of the report

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Description of the case

We don’t hire people to bake brownies; we bake brownies to hire people. — Greyston Bakery’s Benefit Corporation Report (2013)

There has been a growing recognition among businesses of all sizes and types that investments in their communities can pay major dividends in terms of corporate good will and increased profitability. As the epigraph above indicates, one company that has been in the vanguard of this movement is Greyston Bakery, based out of Yonkers, New York. To date, Greyston Bakery has leveraged an enlightened approach to human resource management and corporate social responsibility into a thriving business that supports a wide range of community-based support services for those in need. The purpose of this report was to provide a case study of Greyston Bakery based on the company’s publicly available information, a case study of the company by Deborah Leifziger (2013) and relevant scholarly and peer-reviewed sources. The report is organized into four main sections, with the first section being used to introduce the report, including its purpose and organization. The second section provides a description of the Greyston Bakery case study, including an assessment of the company’s values, motivation, and teamwork, followed by a description of the results of the research in the penultimate section. Finally, a summary of the research and important findings in this case study are presented in the report’s conclusion.

Description of the Case

Greyston Bakery (hereinafter alternatively “the company”) was founded in 1982 (Mission & History, 2016) by Bernard “Bernie” Tetsugen Glassman, a former aerospace engineer and practicing Zen Buddhist priest (Reed, 2011). From the outset, the overarching mission of the company was to identify opportunities to employ people who would otherwise be unable to secure meaningful employment due to their life circumstances (i.e., disabilities, immigration status, substance abuse problems, a criminal record, homelessness) and the company’s sustained profitability was essential to achieving this mission (Leifziger, 2013). The case study reports that the company’s newly installed CEO, Mike Brady, was concerned about how best to fulfill this laudable mission and further expand its positive impact on the community. Although Brady possessed the professional credential and experience that were needed for this enterprise, he was also faced with some significant constraints including a factory that was operating at less than full capacity as well as questions concerning whether to diversify the company’s existing product line to capitalize on emerging trends in consumer preferences such as gluten-free baked goods (Leifziger, 2013).

In addition, Brady was concerned about identifying optimal sourcing approaches that were congruent with Glassman’s vision for the company and his commitment to the PathMaking initiative while reducing its debt (Leifziger, 2013). For instance, according to Leifziger, “One of the core concepts Bernie infused in the company was the concept of PathMaking. Inherent in this concept is that all people are on a path, moving forward with their lives” (p. 1). Finally, despite the organizational culture established by Glassman that placed a high priority on these efforts (Langton, Robbins & Judge, 2016), it remained unclear to Brady how best to promote the Greyston brand. Although the new CEO understood that in order to improve anything, it must first be measured, he did not know yet which metrics were best suited to measure the impact of the company’s CSR initiatives (Leifziger, 2013).

Description of Results

Values. Five terminal values that can be discerned from the company’s publicly available information, the Leifziger (2013) case study and relevant literature are as follows: (1) family security (taking care of loved ones); (2) freedom (independence, free choice); (3) equality (brotherhood, equal opportunity for all); (4) self-respect (self-esteem); and (5) happiness (contentedness). In fact, each of these terminal values is enhanced by the company’s commitment to provide employment opportunities for anyone who wants a job that pays a living wage. For instance, according to Thompson (2012), “Organizations such as Greyston Bakery in New York provide compelling examples of for-profit urban social enterprises that have developed successful businesses while also providing jobs in their respective urban areas to individuals with considerable barriers to employment” (p. 115). Likewise, the company’s Web site points out that, “Greyston is a force for personal transformation and community economic renewal. [W]e create jobs and provide integrated programs for individuals and their families to move forward on their path to self-sufficiency” (History & Mission, 2016, para. 2).

These five values are also at the core of the company’s stated mission to help marginalized people while creating and sustaining a profitable enterprise. In this regard, Russo (2010) emphasizes that, “Its mission pervades its policies and processes. This means, for example, that apprenticeship involves teaching individuals how to work rather than how to bake, focusing on ‘punctuality, attendance, and productivity’” (p. 41). Not only has the company achieved and sustained profitability through these measures and expanded its CSR efforts, it has been able to implement a profit-sharing plan in addition to the other perquisites and assistance programs that are offered to its employees as well as other community residents (Russo, 2010). These perquisites and community-based programs include the following:

Low-income housing for employees and their families;

A child care center to provide high-quality, low cost childcare services for employees;

The Issan House and the Maitri Center that provides housing and adult day health services for those living with HIV / AIDS;

The Community Gardens and Environmental Education program established to address the health disparities for communities of color and environmental needs;

WD 2.0, a comprehensive workforce development program targeted at Yonkers residents (Mission & History, 2016).

As proof that even a small company can make a major difference in its community, the company cites the impressive number of people it assists each year: “We are proud to say that today, Greyston serves over 2,200 community members annually” (Mission & history, 2016, para. 4). Clearly, this level of success was not the result of haphazard management or luck, but rather the outcome of the motivation that was instilled in the company by its founder as discussed further below.

Motivation. The basic motivation for the company’s dual mission of achieving sustainable profitability in order to fulfill its CSR mission is the founder’s vision for Greyston’s future. By providing marginalized residents of Yonkers with a “hand up” instead of a “hand out,” Glassman was fighting poverty at its core roots (Mission & History, 2016). This approach to helping disadvantaged people satisfy their immediate survival needs so they can address higher-order needs such as education and personal relationships is highly consistent with the seminal work by Maslow whose theory of hierarchy of human needs is depicted in Figure 1 below.

Figure 1. Maslow’s theory of the hierarchy of human needs


As can be readily discerned from the pyramid shown in Figure 1 above, the employment opportunities offered by the company are the developmental stepping stones that are needed by everyone in order to pursue those aspects of the human condition that make life worth living. Likewise, this approach is consistent with Herzberg’s motivator-hygiene theory of motivation, with motivators representing factors such as a living wage and opportunity to perform honest work while hygiene factors represent factors such as improvements in self-esteem levels and accessibility to community-based support services (Siemens, 2006).

Teamwork. To its credit, the company has “put its corporate mouth where its money is” by forging supply chain partnerships with like-minded enterprises such as Ben & Jerry’s (now owned by Unilever) that conform to its CSR philosophy, code of conduct and commitment to environmental responsibility for the millions of dollars worth of products and services it needs each year. In this regard, Leifziger (2013) points out that, “The company has 20 key suppliers, each providing over $10,000 per year in product” Sourcing for these products has recently been brought under Unilever contract. By sourcing with Unilever, Greyston has increased its leverage and the coherence of the process” (p. 8).


Although fulfilling the company’s mission might seem contrary to traditional business models that focus strictly on profitability, Greyston Bakery’s successful track record to date confirms that it is possible to not only grow a profitable business through enlightened human resource policies, it is also possible to help individuals and the communities in which they live and work in the process. The case study identified a number of challenges that faced the incoming CEO, but the research showed that all of these issues were resolved in ways that were consistent the “Bernie” Glassman’s vision for the company’s mission and future. Given the founder’s unlikely background of a combination of Zen Buddhism and aerospace engineering, his success in the bakery industry can be attributed to his enlightened views about the inherent worth of humans and their capacity for change when given the opportunity. In the final analysis, it is reasonable to conclude that if the company can continue to apply this business model in the manner in which Glassman envisioned, it will continue to set the standards for other small- to medium-sized enterprises seeking ways to give back to their communities in meaningful ways while still remaining a viable concern.


Creech, R. (1999, Summer). Employee motivation. Management Quarterly, 36(2), 33-39.

Langton, N., Robbins, S.P., & Judge, T.A (2016). Organizational behaviour (7th Canadian ed.). Toronto: Pearson Canada.

Leifziger, D. (2013, December 18). Greyston Bakery: Combatting poverty by making a profit. The Aspen Institute case no. LWW-03.

Mission and history. (2016). Greyston Bakery. Retrieved from

Reed, J. (2011, October). Business with heart: More businesses are looking beyond the bottom line these days. What’s more important than P&L? Well, for starters … changing the world. Success, 36-39.

Russo, M. V. (2010). Companies on a mission: Entrepreneurial strategies for growing sustainably, responsibly, and profitably. Stanford, CA: Stanford Business Books.

Siemens, L. (2006, Fall). Motivation in a global economy: Lessons from Herzberg. Canadian Public Administration, 48(3), 413-415.

Thompson, D. (2012, January 1). L3cs: An innovative choice for urban entrepreneurs and urban revitalization. American University Business Law Review, 2(1), 115-119.

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