A Scoop of Social Responsibility: Ben and Jerry’s the B Corp

Print Share on LinkedIn More


October 22, 2012; Source: Fast Company

Ice cream company Ben and Jerry’s is the first subsidiary of a publicly traded company to become a certified B corporation. According to the B Lab website, “B Corps are certified by the nonprofit B Lab to meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency.” Founded in 1978, Ben and Jerry’s is considered a pioneer in the socially responsible businesses movement in the United States. But in 2000, when Unilever acquired the business, some had concerns that Ben and Jerry’s might struggle to maintain its socially responsible values.

However, with the support of Unilever (which consistently ranks high on the Dow Jones Sustainability Indexes), the independent board of directors and leadership at Ben and Jerry’s worked to get the B corporation certification. Ben and Jerry’s “change[ed] its charter to say that founders or the board can consider the community, employees, and social impact as well as shareholder profit when making a business decision.” The Ben and Jerry’s B Lab impact report is available on the B Lab website.

B Lab boasts that it has certified 643 B corporations, bringing in $4.2 billion in revenues and reaching 60 industries in 15 countries. It is worth noting that B corporation certification doesn’t provide any legal protection against shareholders. Nonetheless, B corporation legislation has been passed in 11 states, according to B Lab. In addition, note that benefit corporations are legal entities that create a general benefit for society and their shareholders and that these entities are different from certified B Corporations. More information on the difference between these two often-confused entities can be found here.

Jay Coen Gilbert, co-founder of B Lab, said, “It’s awesome to have Ben and Jerry’s join a movement that they inspired.” The movement, of course, that he is referring to is social enterprise attached to businesses—companies like Tom’s Shoes, Better World Books, and Method that are realizing that it makes good business sense for them to make money and “do good” by branding themselves as a certified B corporation. –Heather Carpenter

  • isa case

    This letter is in response to MOve on petition of Ben and Jerry


    Dear Ben and Jerry,

    I am an ice crearm lover and your Cherry Garcia is a favorite of mine. I can hardly pass a supermarket freezer aisle without putting one in my cart. In addition I greatly admire the energies you are steadily devoting to the issues that confronet us.

    Normally your political ideals are congruent with mine and thus I support your efforts. However, this petition that favors the Iran deal pushed me to write in the hope that you would continue to support negotiations but rethink your position on the narrowness of this Iran deal

    Consider the following: Is this Iran deal or war the only options? Is this treaty that removes the treat of a nuclear bomb for a short period of time…the answer to peace..or atleast the removal of the fear of war? Or could included in these negotiations be the goal of moving us away from the growing hate which is currently nestled in pockets around the industrialized world and is partially eminating from and actively supported by Iran. Hate that is allowed to actively fester even in corners of our own beloved America..We have to ask ourselves: …Is it possible that by delaying the years of Iran’s building a nuclear bomb.but allowing their hate to grow and the affirmation of their goals to attract even more followers that …..Iran will.grow strong enough to influence the terms of peace based on the goals they are currently advocating.

    We strongly agree with our beloved President that negotiation is the only path to the future. However, based on our President’s statements we fear that the agreement is too limited in scope to protect us or our allies.

    President Obama made the following statements about the Iranian deal: “…..this deal is not contingent on Iran changing its behavior.” “This deal….. addresses a “very specific, narrow, but profound issue–the possibility of Iran getting a nuclear weapon.” And it made that possibility far less likely”

    However, According to a text of the agreement published by the Russian Foreign Ministry, Iran will retain the right to conduct research into enriching uranium for 10 years, without stockpiling it.

    In the meantime…..”Hatred of the United States has been a defining trait of Iran’s ruling system. The Last Friday of the Ramadan fasting month was celebrated with crowds chanting “Death to Israel!” and “Death to America!”.

    Iran’s IRNA news agency said it would benefit from this deal in the following ways:

    a. billions of dollars in frozen funds would be released

    b. sanctions on its central bank, national oil company, shipping and airlines would be lifted. This will certainly provide Iran with mega bucks and power to accomplish its goals some of which are: 1. “wiping Israel off the pages of history” 2. “Death to America”

    Adding together the loose ends outside of the narrow perimeters of the goals that were set forth for Iran..the scenario might look something like this: In 10 years, with nuclear research in hand, and the growing pockets of hate towards America and Israel nestled in many industrialized countries without educational or physical intervention, coupled with the influx of power and money released by this agreement….. might we not see Iran emerge as a mega power …..ready to intensify its actions and support its threats?

    The aspirations of our beloved President is that Iran…freed from sanctions will, in the next 20 years of interaction with the western world, grow more tolerant of Western civilization. However, aspirations are only hopes..while in our current reality Iran is openly supporting the growing hate and violence around the world and history has taught us that hate and violent goals have a way of feeding and strengthening itself.

    The spoken belief of those supporting the signing of this treaty is : “Iran might still sponsor terrorism and start wars…..” President Obama concluded: “Will we try to encourage them to take a more constructive path? Of course. But we’re not betting on it.”

    Therefore, we must consider the fact that the goal of the agreement is too narrow in scope to protect us and our allies. First because Iran has clearly proven that lack of a nuclear bomb and weapons have not curtailed her hate mongering or contributions to middle east wars. Second and most important, wouldn’t it be better to doctor this agreement so we can bet on a path towards peace.

    . Our beloved President asked that this plan be debated on the facts. And we all agree that negotiations and not war is the answer to peace in the middle east. we agree with President Obama that negotiation is the pathway to a peaceful future. However, it seems reasonable that, for our own protection, we must think outside of the short term reprieve from building a nuclear bomb…to: Will it be in our best interests to facillitate the growing power of Iran…. a nation that is loudly pro claiming that their goal is to decimate us….or do we need to add to this agreement conditions that have a probable rather than a “not betting on” chance of laying the foundation for a peaceful future.

    Dear Ben and Jerry, we agree with President Obama that negotiation is the pathway to a peaceful future. However, history has tragically taught us that if a country is gearing its energies towards hate oriented solutions, it requires the full committment of nations to stand against hate and for peaceful solutions. Thus, we are appealing to you to consider the possibility that it is necessary for us to include in this agreement that Iran curtail its growing campaign of violence and hate….so that peace solutions through negotiation can become the new answer to conflict.

    .. In the hope that you will consider the value of adding to this agreement the goals tht will bring Iran to stop supporting war…..we thank you for your considerate attention.

    Your appreciative customer,

  • isa case

    if open discussion is not allowed…on this site..then open discussion which is the corner stone of democracy is not being supported by Ben and Jerry.