Ben and Jerrys CSR

From a renovated gas station in Burlington, Vermont, to far-off places with names we sometimes mispronounce, the journey that began in 1978 with 2 guys and the ice cream business they built is as legendary as the ice cream is euphoric.

Ben and Jerrys CSR Ben and Jerrys CSR

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    - benandjerrys.ca

    Now, let's take a look at how this small ice cream business has expanded its international presence whilst continuously promoting corporate social responsibility (CSR).

    Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a set of practices a business undertakes in order to contribute to society in a positive way. A business may set environmental goals, follow ethical practices and internal governance, or set social objectives - these are all forms of CSR that are integrated into a businesses' operations and interactions with its stakeholders.

    Introduction to Ben and Jerry's

    Ben & Jerry's Homamade Holdings Inc. is an American ice cream company. The company was incorporated in 1977 and was acquired by parent company Unilever in 2000. Although it started out as a small business, it now operates globally in The Americas, Europe, The Caribbean, Asia and Oceana. The company produces over 50 different products ranging from ice cream to frozen yogurt to dairy-free ice cream options. All products are made with high quality and ethically sourced ingredients.

    To source their ingredients, Ben & Jerry's uses a 'values-led sourcing approach' which supports supplier diversity, farmers and farmworkers, regenerative agriculture and shared value creation. The company is also centered around reducing the negative impact of its operations on the environment. They report regularly on climate change-related issues like their carbon footprint, use climate-friendly and energy-efficient freezers to store their products, use sustainable packaging and generate energy to power farms with their waste.

    Ben and Jerry's mission statement

    The mission and values of a company are an integral part of business strategy. They define the parameters by which the organization functions.

    Check out our explanation on mission, corporate objectives and strategy!

    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.

    - benandjerrys.ca

    There are three separate parts to the organization's mission that helps them with internal business decision making. They include the:

    1. Economic mission: with the objective of managing the company in a way that promotes sustainable financial growth by earning profits and increasing value for stakeholders.

    2. Social mission: which aims to make the world a better place by pursuing innovative methods that aim to improve the quality of life locally and globally.

    3. Product mission: to make the best possible products by using natural ingredients and promoting ethical business practices.

    Together, these three core values provide a basis for not only the company's CSR strategy but also for overall business decision-making. As we can see, elements of CSR are already ingrained into the company's mission, meaning that the overarching aim of the business is to set every objective and make every important decision with these values in mind.

    Take a look at our explanation on corporate social responsibility for a reminder on CSR theory and its advantages.

    Ben and Jerry's CSR activities

    Ben & Jerry's has implemented countless CSR activities into their business strategy over the past decades. The following section will provide a brief overview of key social and environmental activities.

    In 1999 a couple of years after entering the UK market, the company launched fundraising activities for a UK kids-in-need network called Childline.

    In 2004 Ben & Jerry's launched a campaign to encourage voter turnout among young people - they managed to register around 11,000 voters.

    In 2005 the company protested drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge with Greenpeace.

    In 2010 the company upped its fair trade commitment to support the Global Fair Trade movement.

    In 2011 the company provided free ice cream for those protesting the rising levels of income inequality in the US.

    In 2013 Ben & Jerry's stood with the consumer movement of supporting mandatory GMO labeling legislation and committed fully to using non-GMO sourced ingredients.

    In 2014 they began innovating dairy-free ice cream to appeal to consumer demand.

    In 2015 the company launched its global climate action campaign.

    In 2016 the company urged consumers to join them in the Black Lives Matter movement.

    Ben and Jerry's CSR strategies

    Although Ben & Jerry's is an ice cream producer, they are committed to making the world a better place through their core values. This makes up the basis of their CSR strategy.

    Let's observe the company through Carroll's CSR Pyramid, which suggests that corporate social responsibility can be represented through a pyramid of four different types of responsibility. These include economic, legal, ethical and philanthropic responsibilities.

    Check out our explanation on corporate social responsibility for a reminder.

    Let's take a look at how Ben & Jerry's addresses each of these responsibilities. Firstly, the company's economic responsibility is to ensure that the business operates in a profitable manner. This responsibility is met by the company as sales in 2021 have reached around 202 million units in the United States alone, suggesting that the organization's operations are profitable.

    Next, observing legal responsibilities, the idea is that a company should follow all laws and regulations set by society. This responsibility is also met by the company's operations and compliance with reporting requirements, among other regulatory requirements.

    The next layer of the pyramid includes ethical responsibilities which are based on the idea that a business should do what is right and fair. The company's mission statement mentions that its goal is to promote ethical business practices including creating value for all stakeholders, expanding opportunities for employees, sourcing products from local farmers, using natural ingredients, etc. These are examples of fair and ethical business practices that all companies are expected (by society) to follow.

    Finally, the top layer of the pyramid includes philanthropic responsibilities, which ensure that the business contributes towards environmental and social goals. Driven by the company's mission statement and core values, Ben & Jerry's aims to create ice cream that changes the world through numerous means beyond just the product. By leveraging its operations and its platform, the company aims to advance human rights and dignity and support social and economic justice for marginalized communities, meanwhile protecting the planet's natural systems.

    Let's explore this last layer in more detail by looking at specific examples. For instance, the company has been an advocate for social justice and social goals for numerous years.

    In 2016 the company prompted its customers to join them in the Black Lives Matter movement and take a stand for justice and overcoming systemic racism. Recently, the company has taken this one step further by admitting that they can do more than just activism for social justice. As a result, they examined the social inequalities internally, within the company, and stated that “Ben & Jerry's is committed to becoming a truly antiracist company by eliminating racial disparities within the company” (benjerry.com).

    From a different point of view, the company places significant emphasis on preserving and restoring the environment, which is apparent through their business strategy. Other than their countless climate action campaigns, examples of how the company attempts to follow its CSR objectives is by reducing their carbon footprint and reusing their waste. This is made possible by setting clear goals and having a realistic overview of their operations.

    Due to the recent advances in technology, Ben & Jerry's knows how to estimate the carbon footprint of a tub of their ice cream and understands that a large portion of its carbon footprint comes from dairy, transportation and additional ingredients. By acknowledging this data, the company can realistically attempt to set off its carbon footprint through other sectors of its operations.

    One of the ways they counteract the harm they cause the environment is through using their manufacturing waste to generate renewable energy.

    According to external environment analyses, we know that the business's external environment can impact its internal environment. However, at times, the opposite also holds true. From Ben & Jerry's perspective, the company acknowledges that its internal practices can impact the external environment. However, by successfully implementing CSR practices, the company can ensure that its internal operational practices are impacting the external environment in a positive way.

    To learn more about the impacts of a business's external environment take a look at our explanations on strategic analysis and the external environment.

    Conclusion

    The mission of a company is an integral part of business strategy and can often reveal a lot about the company's core values. In the case of Ben & Jerry's, sustainable and ethical business practices are clearly ingrained in its mission, allowing the company to effectively implement CSR strategy into its business practices. This has various advantages to the business and its stakeholders.

    Implementing a CSR strategy allows the company to have a clear brand positioning strategy as a responsible ice cream producer. This can help attract new customers and assure existing customers that the ice cream they are buying is ethically sourced and environmentally friendly.

    Additionally, it has various internal benefits such as risk management, whereby the company can make sure it complies with all regulations as their operations and processes are conducted in a responsible manner. CSR implementation also ensures that internal governance is appropriate and the internal corporate structure empowers employees rather than diminishes them.

    Finally, Ben & Jerry's CSR practices also have a positive impact on the external environment, whereby the company attempts to reduce harm towards the environment and promote social justice globally.

    Ben and Jerry's CSR - Key takeaways

    • Ben & Jerry's Homamade Holdings Inc. is an American ice cream company.

    • The company produces over 50 different products ranging from ice cream to frozen yoghurt to dairy-free ice cream options. All products are made with high quality and ethically sourced ingredients.

    • The mission and values of a company are an integral part of business strategy.

    • There are three separate parts to the organization's mission that helps them with internal business decision making including:

      • The economic mission,

      • The social mission,

      • The product mission.

    • Elements of CSR are ingrained into the company's mission, meaning that the overarching aim of the business is to set every objective and make every important decision with these values in mind.

    • This has various advantages to the business and its stakeholders including:

      • A clear brand positioning strategy,

      • Internal benefits,

      • Appropriate internal governance,

      • Empowering employees,

      • Positive impact on the external environment (including ecological and social environment).

    Frequently Asked Questions about Ben and Jerrys CSR

    What do Ben and Jerry's do for CSR?

    Ben and Jerry's carry out economic, legal, ethical and philanthropic responsibilities as its CSR.

    Does Ben and Jerry's support charity?

    Yes, Ben and Jerry's supports charities. One such example is, in 1999, the company launched fundraising activities for a UK kids-in-need network called Childline.

    Who does Ben and Jerry's sponsor?

    Ben and Jerry's has always sponsored ethical and environmental business practices.

    Who are Ben and Jerry's  CSR stakeholders?

    Ben and Jerry's  CSR stakeholders include its employees, suppliers, distribution networks, and customers.

    What is Ben and Jerry's major contribution to CSR?

    Ben and Jerry's have contributed toward creating a positive environmental impact, empowering employees, and social and economic justice for all communities around the world, among many others.

    Test your knowledge with multiple choice flashcards

    What is Ben and Jerry's parent company?

    Corporate social responsibility (CSR)  is a set of practices a business undertakes in order to contribute to profit maximisation.

    A business may set environmental goals, follow ethical practices and internal governance, or set social objectives. These are all forms of CSR.

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