Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, aka Ben and Jerry, were caught protesting against corporate political spending at a rally taking place in the US. They were charged with “unlawful demonstration activity”.
But while the other 1,200 arrested participants arguably tried to shrink into the background, Ben & Jerry’s revealed: “It all comes down to a simple idea that we believe in whole-heartedly: if you care about something, you have to be willing to risk it all – your reputation, your values, your business – for the greater good.”
In fact, it immediately, and proudly, tweeted the news.
— Ben & Jerry’s (@benandjerrys) April 19, 2016
It may sound absurd at first. After all, many take to either burying the news or apologising so as to curry favour with consumers – not Ben & Jerry’s. Arguably, the ice cream giant can perhaps get away with such an act because of its culture and how customers view both the company and its founders.
While Cohen and Greenfield may not necessarily be formally involved in the business anymore, their values have always been part of the brand – and it still carries on even without Cohen and Greenfield being present.
The two made sure the company touts a proud history of social consciousness and responsibility – something which has ensured the ice cream firm and moguls themselves have gained a loyal following.
Read more about getting CSR right:
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They’ve been part of the climate movement for a long time, even making a video showing what would happen to ice cream were it only two degrees warmer – it’s not pretty! And in the wake of of the Democracy Awakening protests, it has argued that dough needs to be removed from politics – yes, they used the word dough.
“At Ben & Jerry’s, we love dough so much, we invented cookie dough ice cream,” the company said. “But dough doesn’t mix well with democracy. In fact, there’s so much big money flooding into our elections that the voice of regular folks is being drowned out.”
The company wants its farmers to be treated fairly, fought for same-sex marriage – in support of which they made ice cream flavour “I Dough, I Dough” – and have constantly renewed their vows of wanting to create world peace.
Ben & Jerry’s own writeup of the account included a call to action on social justice issues, and a word from Cohen, who wrote: “The history of our country is that nothing happens until people start putting their bodies on the line and risk getting arrested.”
No, we’re not saying that the solution to a tarnished reputation after being arrested for protesting – or worse – is to make sure you’re supporting political efforts. However, it highlights just how highly consumers value businesses that champion grass-roots movements and strive to take on more social responsibility.
No matter what you may think, a little CSR is relevant to all companies regardless of size and influence.
Well managed Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives aren’t just for big business. Read these six key steps for getting your CSR programme right.
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