Ben and Jerry’s: World Greatest Ice Cream

One of my favorite brands, hands down, is Ben and Jerrys.  Ben and Jerrys has always had a way of making the bad times good and the good times even better.  Any night spent with my friends Ben and Jerry is a great night. I love ice cream! Ice cream is probably my favorite food.  And when I have to choose and ice cream brand, I always go for Ben and Jerrys.  Ben and Jerrys is known for their unique and delicious flavor combinations, like their flavor “half baked” made with “chocolate and vanilla ice creams with fudge brownies and gobs of chocolate chip cookie dough”.  They are known for their creative names for ice cream flavors, like “Phish Food”, “Late Night Snack”, or “Imagine Whirled Peace”.  And, of course, they are known for the high quality of their ice cream.  While all of these things are great for the brand, Ben and Jerrys also does many things to be a socially responsible company, and I do not believe they get enough credit.

Ben and Jerrys have tried to include giving back into every single part of their business model.  Their business is based on the idea of “linked prosperity”, which they explain as the notion that if they grow, then all of the places that are linked to them, like the manufacturers, will get benefits as well.  Ben and Jerry’s mission statement is “Ben & Jerry’s operates on a three-part mission that aims to create linked prosperity for everyone that’s connected to our business: suppliers, employees, farmers, franchisees, customers, and neighbors alike.”  Those three parts of the mission include the product mission, the economic mission, and the social mission.  This video below displays what Ben and Jerrys mean by “linked prosperity” and how they achieve this.

I find this to be very impressive and something that Ben and Jerry’s should be more recognized for.  They really have looked at every step of their production process, analyzed it, and tried to make it the most socially responsible as possible.  Similar to what Ed Freedman said in his speech, that Nike was being criticized for the working conditions in the farms that produced the dye for the shoes, and Nike did not take responsibility, Ben and Jerry’s is a company that does.  They monitor all the the farms where all of their ingredients are produced, like vanilla and coffee, and make sure the conditions are up to their standards.  Also, they look out for the environment.  They do not use chemicals on their products, make sure the cows are well cared for, and they use eco-friendly packaging.  As the video says, they are also very transparent about everything by issuing a social and environmental report.  You can also tell how dedicated they are to being socially responsible by looking at the titles of the employees talking in the video, the “activist”, “Director of Social Missions”, “Activism Manager” and so on.

Additionally, this is not all that Ben and Jerry’s do.  All of the previous things are all acts of social responsibility that are linked to their production process, but that is not all they do.  Ben and Jerry’s tries to be active in current social issues that are unrelated to the business.  For example, the have many other issues they care about that they actively support like marriage equality, climate justice, peace building, GMO labeling and others.  I think it is great that a company is using its size and power to help make changes in society that they are about.

Lastly, Ben and Jerry’s created the Ben and Jerry’s foundation.  The mission of this foundation is below.

“The mission of the Ben & Jerry’s Foundation is to engage Ben & Jerry’s employees in philanthropy and social change work; to give back to our Vermont communities; and to support grassroots activism and community organizing for social and environmental justice around the country.”

Overall, I find it impressive how active Ben and Jerry’s about being socially responsible.  I think Ben and Jerry’s presents a ideal representation of the stakeholder value theory.  They make a great product and pursue profits, but also hold other stakeholders’ values at an equal level.  This is shown through every part of the company and is explicitly stated in their mission statement.  Although I already love Ben and Jerry’s ice cream purely based on flavor, knowing all of these facts make the ice cream even better!


4 responses to “Ben and Jerry’s: World Greatest Ice Cream

  1. I actually knew that Ben and Jerry’s was active in social responsibility from a management course I took freshman year. I totally agree that they are not getting enough credit for all the good they are doing! Do you think that their humble ways help the company or do you think they should do more to advertise all the good they are doing? Some parts of me think that customers who already know about their socially responsible efforts are more loyal because they know these things. But another part of me thinks that if more people knew they would be less likely to choose Eddy’s or Haagen Dazs when faced with the choice in the supermarket. Do you think Ben and Jerry’s would have more loyal customers if more people knew about their socially responsible practices?


  2. I certainly love Ben and Jerry’s too! From your post it seems like the company really prides itself on their CSR. However, Ben and Jerry’s is owned by Unilever. I was disillusioned with Unilever after finding out that it owns both Dove (i.e. Real Beauty Campaign) and Axe (i.e. women throwing themselves at men campaign) I wonder how much of Ben and Jerry’s CSR is just a successful marketing campaign similar to Dove or Axe. Does the fact that Ben and Jerry’s is owned by Unilever make their efforts a little less “sweet”?


    • You bring up a fair point. Unilever’s ownership of Ben and Jerry’s can evoke some doubts about the company’s authenticity. However, Ben and Jerry’s had previously established its dedication to socially responsible activities. Between the company’s founding in 1980 and the sale to Unilever in 2000, Ben and Jerry’s engaged in a number of initiatives including the Ben and Jerry’s foundation in 1985, open opposition to rGBH (a type of growth hormone used in animals) in 1989 and a partnership with the national non-profit Children’s Defense Fund in 1992. Certainly Unilever has since given Ben and Jerry’s some marketing and distribution capabilities, but it is not involved in day to day management.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I agree with Spencer. Many of the good things that Ben and Jerry’s does, they began before they were owned by Unilever. Additionally, Unilever has continuously supported Ben and Jerry’s social responsibility actions. In 2009, Unilever donated $2 million to the Ben and Jerry’s foundation. In my opinion, it does not seem like they engage in all of this CSR for publicity, but rather that it was at the core of Ben and Jerry’s business plan from the start, and Unilever has allowed them to keep this at the core, and has supported them in this mission.


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