How to Love Your Neighbor? Create Good Jobs

The following videos were filmed at “Creating Good Jobs for Our Community,” a DIFW event on  September 10, 2015, that drew business people from across the region. There are two videos — a keynote presentation by Julius Walls and a panel discussion moderated by Joanna Meyer that adds local voices to the conversation.

Keynote Address – Julius Walls

Creating Good Jobs for Our Community - Julius Walls from Denver Institute on Vimeo.

In his keynote address, seasoned social entrepreneur Julius Walls — former CEO of Greyston Bakery, a $7 million social enterprise in Yonkers, New York — described how his passion for business was fueled by people he knew growing up. He shared, “[In one New York zip code], seven out of 10 African American males couldn’t find a job. Some worked off the books, but working off the books doesn’t provide the protections of the American dream such as being able to apply for health insurance or unemployment insurance, retirement or social security.”

In this address, Julius describes his approach to leading Greyston and tactics he used to improve efficiency, safety and create additional jobs. He challenged event attendees to change their expectations of what it will take to create jobs for vulnerable people in our community.

We have to teach people. I consider myself a fairly smart guy, but if you offered me a job to go build a rocket ship, that’s not my skill set. And you wouldn’t want to get on that rocket. But if you gave me five or 10 years, properly compensated me, and motivated me to study, I could build a rocket ship. But if you gave me a year, I would fail and you would say, ‘I gave him an opportunity.’ And that’s what we’re doing: We’re giving employees an opportunity that they’re ill-prepared to succeed at and then calling them failures.”

Panel Discussion – Andy Magel, Karla Nugent and Julius Walls

Panel - Creating Good Jobs for Our Community from Denver Institute on Vimeo.

How can you teach work ethic to employees who don’t have a role model in their lives outside of the work environment? How can an employer communicate that it truly cares about its workers and wants them to succeed? What do you do when an employee is struggling and something goes wrong at work?

In this panel discussion, keynote speaker Julius Walls is joined by local social enterprise leaders Andy Magel, executive director of Mile High Workshop, and Karla Nugent, founding partner and chief development officer of Denver-based electrical company Weifield Group Contracting. Andy and Karla’s remarks will be particularly practical and inspiring to others in Denver considering how to create jobs for our at-risk neighbors.

As a result of what I heard at this event, I will…

We asked participants to jot down what they intend to do as a result of hearing from Julius, Andy and Karla. This is what it’s all about! Here are a few of our favorites:

  • I will talk to my HR department about the idea of “apprenticeship” vs. “probationary period.”
  • I will integrate the language of “support” rather than “help”
  • I will give my employees time and trust them as they grow.
  • I will practice open book management.
  • I will buy Ben & Jerry’s ice cream! (Watch the videos to understand this one!)
  • I will explore “inclusive employment” with the business owners of my congregation.