“We don’t hire homies to bake bread, we bake bread to hire homies.”
I have often written about my love & admiration for Father Greg Boyle (Father G) and the work he has done with the gang population in Los Angeles with Homeboy Industries. It is not an easy thing to promote the dignity of people who have been involved in violent criminality, finding kinship in mutual love and respect.
This line — “We don’t hire homies to bake bread, we bake bread to hire homies.” — is a perfect description of the complex dynamic of running a business that is, at its core, motivated to employ a marginalized population.
"Social enterprise" is the category name for a business that is run for profit (not a charity), but that also has other goals in addition to profit as the bottom line.
I consider dignify a social enterprise: we are motivated by sustainable finances (profit), but also by good. Good for us, good for the artisans making our blankets, good for everyone from stitch to doorstep, good for the earth.
Basha, our producing partner, is also a social enterprise, but with a heavy lean on the social side. There is simply so much need! When you choose to employ people who are traditionally difficult to employ, there are risks and challenges, and most of all: tensions.
In a standard business, if an employee doesn't show up to work multiple times, they get fired, right?
What if she doesn't show up because her husband beat her (again) last night, and she's nursing her wounds? What if she is cradled in a corner, unable to get going for the day — a direct result of the trauma of her previous year, 5 years, lifetime?
Decisions, as the boss, become a bit more tricky, a bit more nuanced.