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Giving Compass' Take:
• B the Change shares how Ben and Jerry's ice cream embraces education about racial equity internally and externally as part of their CSR strategy.
• How can funders help companies find their CSR focus? What are the advantages of social messages coming from businesses?
• Learn how to implement corporate social responsibility.
Social mission was so important that when Ben & Jerry’s sold to Unilever in 2000, part of the purchase agreement included what was essentially a forerunner to the benefit corporation structure: an independent board of directors and governance over social mission and brand integrity.
A Certified B Corporation since 2012, Ben & Jerry’s recently broadened its social mission work to include racial justice, which the company explains on its website as “a journey to better understand issues of race in our country, to acknowledge the existence of systemic racism and the implicit biases that all of us carry.” So far that has included taking a stand for Black Lives Matter, sponsoring the Facing Race Conference with event organizer Race Forward in November 2018 in Detroit, and spreading the word about racial equity in its e-newsletter and social media channels — and that’s just the start. Ben & Jerry’s European business is focusing on refugee resettlement and asylum.
“We’ve always reviewed our own company culture and had a lot of conversations about diversity in the company and our supply chain,” Michalak says. “We had a town hall at Ben & Jerry’s with leaders in the (racial justice) movement, who challenged us to consider what we should be asking ourselves.”
By working with nonprofit organizations and other experts in civil and human rights, the B Corp began employee workshops and other programs to raise awareness about racial equity and implicit bias.
“The first stage is really education” on how to build a more inclusive and equitable culture, says Michalak, in his 22nd year as a full-time employee with Ben & Jerry’s. “Concurrent to that, we also looked at our recruiting practices. We realized that we needed to broaden the recruiting channels to allow for a more diverse talent pool to apply for jobs here. We’re looking at all of our practices — marketing, franchise, product development — and how they can be more reflective of a more diverse world.”
While Ben & Jerry’s is pursuing equity work for moral and ethical purposes — “primarily because it’s the right thing to do,” Michalak says — it also serves as an opportunity to expand and diversify its business and workforce to create a more inclusive company.
Read the full article about Ben & Jerry's from B the Change at Medium.