Ethics and Corporate Citizenship

This paper is first going to discuss if the ice cream company founded in 1978, Ben & Jerry’s is utilizing ethical and corporate responsibilities. Then the paper will look at some specific examples and determine how the board of directors are running the company. The paper will also discuss some possible options Ben & Jerry’s can use in order to grow as a company with the attributes of ethics and responsibility. 

About six years into the business, Ben Cohen of Ben & Jerry’s recalled a conversation he had with a restaurant owner that said “If you don’t like your business, then change it”. This little conversation is what changed Ben Cohen from that point on until the selling of the company in 2000 to a larger company named Unilever. Until the selling of the company, Ben and Jerry focused on the impacting their community as one of their core values instead of just profits and quality. (Kinsman, 2004)

In 1988 Ben & Jerry’s created a Mission Statement, which aims to produce, sell and distribute top quality products, than make profits but also giving career opportunities and financial rewards for their employees and to play a major role in society as a business to improve life quality local, national and international (Ben & Jerry's, 2012). Ben & Jerry’s accomplishments: The company has been very successful with creating grassroots changes in their community. Below are just a few of them… 1. In 1992 Ben & Jerry’s was the first company to sign the Coalition for Environmentally Responsible Economies (CERES) principles (Bilson, 2010).

2. They use Fair Trade ingredients (Bilson, 2010). 3. In 1999, launched the Vermont Dairy Farm Sustainability Project which demonstrated that farmers could reduce nutrient levels without decreasing crop size and that improved water quality and cost savings resulting from reductions in the amount of nutrient use on the farm would be beneficial for the environment as well as the farmers’ bottom-line (Bilson, 2010). 4. Ben & Jerry’s also donates a portion (7. 5%) of its pre-tax profits to corporate philanthropy which is employee-led through the Ben & Jerry's Foundation and Community Action Teams (CATS) at each site (Bilson, 2010).

5. In 1985, the Ben & Jerry’s Foundation was created by Ben Cohen in 1985 with a donation of stock to improve the world by giving the employees of Ben & Jerry available resources to help organizations that work on solving environmental and social problems (Ben & Jerry's Foundation, Inc. , 2012). Each factory has an environmental coordinator that there to take care of, create, and execute environmental practices like waste, recycling, water management, etc. The company also realizes that in order to keep valued employees, they created a “Joy Gang” that comes together to “infuse joy in everything they do”.

Their job is to create fun events for the employees to participate in. Committees like this help to boost morale and keep the employees looking forward to coming in to work which in turn lessens the employee turnover rate and the monies that it costs to hire and train new employees. They have also received awards like the Working Mother magazine named the business as one of the best in a hundred for working mothers and in 1988 the Business Ethics magazine awarded the company with the third rank out of a hundred along with the Council on Economic Priorities awarded them the Corporate Giving Award (Nelson, 2006).

One of the co-founders, Ben Cohen had stated during an interview that they did not want to sell the company, but since they went public, there have been many offers to purchase the company. The law required them to sell the company to another company that is offering more than what the stock was being sold at the time. If they did not sell, the shareholders could sue if they turned their offer down.

The laws are trying to be rewritten, but of course it is too late for the co-founders of Ben & Jerry’s. Therefore, shareholders are the more in control of a company than even the owners (Dembosky, 2010). In my opinion (after reading this article), it seems that shareholders need to become more corporate responsible than the company itself and tougher laws to protect companies that promote and live the values of ethics and corporate social responsibility.

The business world is taking notice of this company’s views and now that the company has been under new ownership since 2000, Ben & Jerry’s website released the following statement when asked if they were going to still be dedicated to environmental awareness and charitable activities: “Unilever has reaffirmed its commitment to having Ben & Jerry's operate as an independent entity within the Unilever family, with its own board focusing on providing leadership for the company's social mission.

Our new CEO, Yves Couette, has expressed his determination to maintain and expand those things about the company that have made it unique. Ben & Jerry’s contributes a minimum of $1. 1 million annually through corporate philanthropy that is primarily employee led. Contributions made via the Ben & Jerry’s Foundation in 2001 totaled over $1. 4 million. We continue our PartnerShop program, support for farmers who do not use rBGH, sponsorship of events which contribute to community wellbeing, and protection of the environment in all of our activities.

We are optimistic that the Unilever connection will help us project this social awareness on to a much larger canvas. (Ben & Jerry's, 2010)” Ben & Jerry’s is a company (though not perfect) that many other businesses should look up to. The company is talked about and used as an example in many articles, websites, and journals as a company that should be followed by many entrepreneurs. To this day the founders of this wonderful company attend conventions and lectures to teach other companies and future entrepreneurs their values and beliefs of becoming successful businesses along with attending to their own charities.

So far this company has been put into the right hands and the founders are confident that they made the right decision to continue on with the corporate citizenship this company provides along with having them work as a separate entity with their own board members. This would probably help keep the stakeholders happy and the shareholders even happier! Therefore, I end this paper with a powerful quote from Jerry Greenfield. “There is a spiritual aspect to business, just as there is to the lives of individuals,” Greenfield said. “As you give, you receive.

As you help others, you are helped in return. Just because the idea that the good you do is written in the Bible and not in a business textbook doesn’t make it any less valid. ” (Nelson, 2006)

Works Cited

Ben & Jerry's. (2012, June). Benjerry. com/activism. Retrieved from Ben & Jerry's: http://www. benjerry. com/ Ben & Jerry's. (2010, March 5). Benjerry/custhelp. com. Retrieved from http://benjerry. custhelp. com/app/answers/detail/a_id/174/related/1 Ben & Jerry's Foundation, Inc. (2012, July). Retrieved from Ben & Jerry's Foundation: http://www. benandjerrysfoundation. org/home. html