Since its founding, Ben & Jerry's has committed to promoting social justice, protecting the environment, and supporting sustainable food systems. Although its most well-known social initiatives are connected to ice cream making processes, such as supporting Fairtrade, Ben & Jerry's also partners with several social equality groups. Its Justice ReMix'd programme, for instance, focuses on reforming criminal justice systems, in which people of colour are often disproportionately affected. Company employees are also involved in the Ben & Jerry's Foundation.
Ben & Jerry's loves making ice cream—but using their business to make the world a better place gives their work its meaning. Guided by their Core Values, they seek in all they do, at every level of their business, to advance human rights and dignity, support social and economic justice for historically marginalized communities, and protect and restore the Earth's natural systems. In other words: they use ice cream to change the world.
Ben & Jerry's focuses their social impact efforts on three main cause areas:
Human Rights & Dignity
The staff is committed to honoring the rights of all people to live with liberty, security, self-esteem, and freedom of expression and protest, and to have the opportunity to provide for their own needs and contribute to society.
Social & Economic Justice
Ben & Jerry's is committed to achieving equity, opportunity, and justice for communities across the globe that have been historically marginalized, recognizing that this is tied to fair livelihoods that enable individuals, families, and communities to thrive.
Environmental Protection, Restoration, & Regeneration
The company is committed to a positive, life-giving environmental impact that restores degraded natural environments and enables increased diversity and abundance of ecosystems.
In 1985 Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Inc. undertook a public stock offering to support its ongoing growth. The Ben & Jerry’s Foundation was created at the same time, with an initial gift from Ben of 50,000 shares and an unprecedented decision by the company’s Board of Directors to commit 7.5% of the company’s annual pretax profits to philanthropy.
In the early ’90s, the Foundation and company staff began to think about the Foundation’s strategies and effectiveness. "We realized the best way to embody the company’s progressive values and the Foundation’s commitment to the power of the grassroots was to empower employees to participate in grantmaking" said Ben & Jerry's Chairman of the Board. Through the creation of Community Action Teams at each site and the Employee Grantmaking Committees, the Foundation redesigned the grantmaking processes to place decision-making in employees’ hands.
In 2000, Ben & Jerry’s Homemade was acquired by Unilever, a global company with over 400 brands. Unilever continues to generously support the Foundation through an annual allocation that takes into account Ben & Jerry’s ice cream sales and inflation.
The Foundation remains true to its founding values as they continue to strive to be responsive to grant partners and nurture the spirit of philanthropy in Ben & Jerry’s employees.
To date, the foundation has awarded over $50,000,000.
The way companies engage their employees and create impact is more important now than ever before. We face global and societal challenges, and companies have the power to make a difference.
Creating impact and engagement at this scale is incredibly challenging. That's why we felt it was essential to launch the WeHero 100 to highlight the top 100 companies making an impact.
WeHero announces a new company to the WeHero 100 monthly, with the goal of raising awareness and motivating more companies to focus on impact.
Join us in celebrating these change makers!