Scoops of Goodness

I love Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, but now have a reason to love purchasing the company’s ice cream even more.  Ben and Jerry opened up their ice cream shop in 1978 on a $12,000 budget.  They knew that ice cream would not be the only important element in their business; they would need to be environmentally friendly and socially responsible.

The little ice cream shop in Vermont quickly became a hit, and profits soared.  With newfound profits, the company decided that it wanted to give back.  In 1985, the company created the Ben & Jerry’s Foundation; 7.5% of the company’s pre-tax profits go to the foundation to be put towards community-oriented projects.  This foundation was just the beginning of the company’s giving.

In 2000, Ben & Jerry’s became a part of Unilever, but retained its own independent board so that it could continue with its social agenda.  Since then, the company has been involved with several social initiatives.  Here is a list of a few of Ben & Jerry’s actions that serve to highlight the company’s involvement with the community:

2001: Gave away over $100,000 to local non-profit groups through “Charity Scooper Bowls”

2002: Created the One Sweet Whirled ice cream flavor in a partnership with Dave Matthews Band and to fight global warming.

2004: Partnered with Rock the Vote to increase voter turnout among young people.  On Free Cone Day, Rock the Vote Representatives hung out with crowd members and got over 11,000 people to register to vote over the course of the day.

2005: Created a 900-pound ice cream structure to protest oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, which was served on the US Capital lawn with help from Greenpeace.

2007: Sent a group of protesters in cow costumes to Washington, D.C. to protest the FDA’s statement that meat and milk from cloned animals is safe to consume.

2009: Sponsored the “Do the World a Flavor” campaign, building a playground in the Dominican Republic.

2010: Converted the ingredients used in ice cream production to support the global Fair Trade movement.


7 responses to “Scoops of Goodness

  1. I like that you highlight Ben & Jerrys as a socially responsible company because it serves as an excellent example of big business that isn’t “evil”. People criticize big corporations (like Unilever) for being greedy and uncaring of their customers and other stakeholders. Ben & Jerrys, however, is a part of Unilever (which most people don’t know) and it doesn’t get the harsh scrutiny that is usually targeted at big companies. This goes to show that large companies can do positive things for their community while being profitable and popular with consumers.

  2. It is so refreshing to finally see a company that is adamant on being socially responsible. Ben & Jerry’s has stuck with the core values that it was founded upon even when it was acquired by Unilever. Sometimes large corporations have a difficult time appearing environmentally and socially responsible to the public. I think that was a very smart business decision on Unilever’s part to acquire a small company like Ben & Jerry’s and take the step towards being more environmentally conscious.

  3. I really enjoyed reading about a company who stuck to its core values and has remained socially responsible throughout their growth and expansion. They have used their positive image and “feel good” product to better society. I did not know they were part of Unilever, and I think that is in large part to the fact they kept their own independent board which has allowed them remain socially responsible and keep to their core values I would be interested to see what other companies have used this approach.

  4. This is really interesting. I had never viewed Ben, and Jerry’s as a socially responsible company before. I like the fact that when they started they knew they had to cater to an increasingly socially aware population, and participate in an increasing environmentally unfriendly business world. A lot of companies have superficially hopped on the socially aware bandwagon that has recently been trending, however it’s always nice to see companies that behave in this way as a result of their beliefs, not as a reaction to public opinion, or unrest.

  5. When Jerry came to speak at my high school many students dismissed him as a out of touch hippie character prior to his arrival. After hearing about the work he and Ben have been engaged in over the years I strongly agree that the two of them have created an ethically sound company. The two founders and their colleagues have a unique ability to think outside the box as evidenced by the 900-pound ice cream structure created for the 2005 oil drilling protest…

  6. I knew there was another reason why I loved Ben & Jerry’s besides the taste of their ice cream! I was completely unaware of all of the fantastic service and philanthropic endeavors that the company as taken on since they were created. This is exactly that type of success that I was trying to get at in my post several weeks ago “Are You Successful?” This company has not only been successful in creating a good product and growing overtime, but they have been successful in the social realm by actually making a bigger difference in society rather than just supplying the world with ice cream.

  7. It is great to hear about a company that did not “sell out!” It is companies like “Ben & Jerry’s” that businesses should use as a model. Ben and Jerry’s were not concerned with making money but more concerned with offering a quality product in a welcoming environment. It seems as if their list of charities is as long as their list of accomplishments. I have read several case studies on Ben and Jerry’s and they always continue to impress me!

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