Giving Compass' Take:

• CEO of Ben & Jerry’s, Jostein Solheim, shares how the company is working to make an impact for communities of color. 

• How can other compnaies learn from this example? How can consumers help drive businesses to make more responible choices?

• Learn about another impactful way to conduct corporate social reponibility

When I became the CEO of Ben & Jerry’s, I knew the business was not like others. While most businesses avoid serious issues for fear of losing customers, Ben & Jerry’s had a history of running toward controversy rather than away from it. Whether supporting same-sex marriage and LGBTQ rights, or initiatives to combat global warming or a ban on Muslims in the United States, the company has remained in the scrum.

Throughout 2015, we hosted a group of advisors from organizations with expertise in race. With their counsel, we built a knowledge base, listened and learned, and found out what we could do to raise awareness and take action against racial injustice. At the end of the year, Ben & Jerry’s Foundation led a trip to Greensboro, North Carolina—a city with a rich history of social action against segregation—and met with nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and advocates to develop a strategy.

This conversation led to a campaign focused on voting and empowering communities of color in Greensboro and across North Carolina—a politically mixed, “purple” state. Instead of running a traditional corporate marketing campaign, we wanted experts on the ground—including the Beloved Community Center, Bennett College, and the International Civil Rights Center and Museum—to direct the effort. These experts determined how and where they could create the most impact using the power of our products and corporate voice. The result was the Empower Mint campaign, which ultimately succeeded in registering 7,000 people to vote.

Our company is mission-focused and values-led. Ben & Jerry’s has long been a proponent for equality and social justice, and were grateful to be recognized by the Martin Luther King Junior Center for Non-Violent Social Change in the United States in 2012. But until recently, we had never intentionally addressed systemic and institutional racism.

Read the full article about Ben & Jerry's by Jostein Solheim at Stanford Social Innovation Review.