Once more, a large enterprise proves that social engagement and financial profits are not irreconcilable, and that pairing them is even more profitable on the long run.
The perfect combination of Ben & Jerry’s: delicious ice cream and genuine activism /
In 1977 Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, two American entrepreneurs with 12,000 dollars to invest, opened their first Ben & Jerry’s in downtown Burlington, Vermont. The latter was done after they both completed a distance learning course on how to make ice cream.
From its very beginnings, these ex-hippy partners decided to combine corporatism and social activism, in what to them, was a natural symbiosis. Even in their first years their success was astonishing, to the degree that in 1987, Häagen Dazs, one of the first great ice cream companies in the world, decided to limit its distribution.
The couple continues to believe in their social mission to this day, and among their generally extravagant expressions of their activist philosophy, we can find the following:
· In 2005 the partners installed a huge poster outside of the American capitol after the senate proposed opening the National Artic Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling.
· Since 2003 they have put in motion a campaign to take care of the needs of the cows, producers and the environment.
· They pay their employees at least two minimum wages.
· They help the unemployed by hiring them to work for Greyston Bakery in New York; here they make brownies for one of their ice cream flavours.
· They try to answer their clients’ queries in the most direct manner.
· They gave away ice creams during the Occupy Wall Street movement.
· The employees are allowed to take free ice cream home every day.
· As a company, they have publicly expressed they support for same sex marriage.
Ben & Jerry’s founders are life-long friends, as well as partners. They have proven that despite their global success, their activist “extravaganza” and general coolness, lies in a genuine belief in partnering social engagement with the business world, proving they can be different sides of the same coin. As a matter of fact, this company has been a role model, showing that having a responsible philosophy behind a good product, in the mid-term proves to be even more profitable that the usual meanness attributed to most large enterprises.Tagged: Agents of Change, ice cream, civil activism, Ben & Jerry’s