Since I came on Board in 2010, I have been so impressed with how our Ben & Jerry’s community has continued to push itself to get better at what we do and strive to become the Company we have aspired to be since Ben and Jerry began tinkering with a purpose-driven business model so many years ago. 2017 was a pivotal year for us. When we look back at it, many years from now, we will have a much better understanding of the transformative significance that 2017 will have in Ben & Jerry’s history.
Since we opened the doors to our first scoop shop in 1978, we have consistently brought to our workplace and our communities the ambition to be a company that upheld the best values of humanity and the highest standards of justice. “Don’t leave your values outside the door when you come to work,” was then, and is now, our never-ending mantra. We want to be the company we envision in our Mission and Values statements. We want to keep transforming our company from the inside out and 2017 was a landmark year in that journey.
I am very proud to say that, in 2017, we signed the first-ever worker-driven labor program in any dairy supply chain in the world (that we know of). It came after many, many months - years actually - of working towards that end. We agreed to be the first company to sign up to the Milk with Dignity program, founded by the Vermont-based non-profit Migrant Justice. And this wasn’t a finish-line moment for us, but instead, it was a starting point.
Racism & Refugee Asylum
2017 was a remarkable year for other reasons too. We, quite intentionally, stepped into the deeply complex issues of systemic racism in the United States, refugee asylum and resettlement in Europe, marriage equality in Germany and Australia (among other countries), LGBT rights in Japan (and other countries), air quality and clean fuels in Brazil and many other issues within the communities where we do business.
We continued the drumbeat for countries around the world to stick to their commitments made in Paris at the COP21 summit to implement a global plan that changes, for the better, the course of our changing climate. And we looked inward to determine our best path to reduce carbon 40% by 2025 and 80% by 2050 (% carbon intensity per pint) within the most challenging parts of our extended value chain.
Small Steps, Long Journey
Yet, with every step forward, whether it’s large or small, we realized that there is a humbling level of magnitude that comes with each step taken. There are lessons to be learned, which can be uncomfortable. There are moments to listen and reflect. There are moments to be assertive and take action. At times, the seemingly relentless headwinds and crosswinds to these issues can make you feel as if you aren’t making any progress at all. But then, when you look back on the year, you realize how far you’ve gone.
The path to any hard met milestone doesn’t come without moments of tension, or an emotional toll on the various stakeholders within the communities that are affected. Whether it is the dairy farmer or the dairy worker, a person of color, or someone escaping an area of conflict, people want to be safe and secure. People deserve their human rights and a dignified, equitable place in life. We are living in a moment in time when we need to challenge ourselves to take stock and ask what can we each do to build a more fair and equitable world?
Whenever you address the issues confronting the social, economic and environmental systems that we have created, it invariably requires a shift in power. How can we achieve social, political and economic systems that share power among the stakeholders within that system? Whenever there is a shift in power there is discomfort, suspicion, anxiety even anger. But as the light of human rights shines through the prisms of collaboration, transparency and perseverance, it illuminates the path towards something better. We believe we are on that path at Ben & Jerry’s.
Working Inside Out
Internally, for the Ben & Jerry’s global employee community, we set the stage for 2017 to be a culturally pivotal year. We understand that what we did yesterday isn’t good enough for what we want to accomplish tomorrow. So, what can we do today to help us get to our global vision of an inclusive, diverse, equitable, interconnected company? A company that is internally on a path towards equity and externally on that same path in each community where we do business. A company that truly stands for social, environmental and economic justice. A company that has the audacity to ask itself if it is truly living up to its own Mission and Values statements and has the courage to do the things internally and externally to make our Linked Prosperity business model more real every day.
Are we there yet? Nope. Not even close. But we know that and it compels us to keep moving forward on our ambition. Set a high bar. Have a grand vision. Start moving toward it. As I like to say to the Ben & Jerry’s team, “If you know you need to head west, just start heading west. You might end up in San Francisco, Sydney or Singapore (from our Vermont starting point), but let’s get started heading west!”
This will be the last annual SEAR CEO Letter I will write as Ben & Jerry’s CEO as I will be transitioning in 2018 to a new role at Unilever, outside of Ben & Jerry’s (but still connected in many ways). It’s been the honor of my professional life to serve as Ben & Jerry’s CEO since 2010. I know I am leaving it in the hands of a marvelous group of people, around the world, who are writing the new pages of what a successful, purpose-drive business can do in the world. Please enjoy our 2017 report and know that Ben & Jerry’s will continue to work to improve its social performance so that, as we grow our business, we grow our impact in the world.
Becoming The Company We Aspire To Be
- Inside the Company, we continued the cultural development work to become the inclusive, diverse, equitable, interconnected global company we envision in our Mission and Values statements. We are in the early stages of that ongoing work and we know that there is still much to be done. We have established an Equity Framework. We have expanded our recruiting practices. We are training and developing our people to understand how we can each contribute to a more inclusive, diverse, equitable Ben & Jerry’s. For 2017, we calibrated an entry-level, full-time employee Living Wage of $17.26/hour.
- We had 151 graduates of our Core Academy in 2017, which helps Ben & Jerry’s people throughout our business, from manufacturing to our scoop shops, to develop life skills, emotional intelligence, a new understanding of bias and equity, and ways to become engaged advocates for positive social change.
- Outside the Company, we continued working to change the narrative on systemic racism in the US, refugee asylum and resettlement in Europe, marriage equality in Germany, Australia and LGBTQ rights in Japan and other countries around the world.
Embedding Human Rights in our Value Chain
- We signed onto the first-ever, worker-driven labor program in the dairy industry, the Milk with Dignity program, to be implemented in our northeastern US dairy supply chain.
- We continue to work within our Fairtrade-certified supply chains to move us closer to Fairtrade’s ambition of improving small-holder agricultural producers’ livelihoods and quality of life.
- We implemented values-led hiring practices at a manufacturing sites in Vermont and the Netherlands providing jobs for those who have barriers to employment.
- We piloted an entrepreneurial academy, the Ice Cream Entrepreneurs (ICE) Academy, to help refugees in Europe open a path to creating their own enterprises.
Digging Deeper on Racism in the United States
4 Issues: Racism, Poverty, Militarism, Ecological Devastation 1 Campaign: The Poor People’s Campaign
- In 2017, we continued to confront one of the most tenuous social issues of our time: systemic racism in the United States. We want to change the angry narrative that is currently pervasive and approach the issue in constructive ways. We signed up to support the new Poor Peoples Campaign, a campaign to change the discourse on systemic racism, poverty, militarism and ecological destruction in the US and turn us in a more positive direction.
- The Poor People’s Campaign is a national movement calling for Americans to unite across race, nationality, and class, to fight poverty, racism, and militarism. We’ve begun using our tools and channels to advance the larger strategy of the Campaign, which seeks to organize and empower poor and disenfranchised people in a way that builds lasting and broad based political power.
- Ben & Jerry’s supported Floridians for a Fair Democracy’s effort to return the vote to more than 1.6 million permanently disenfranchised Floridians with a felony record. The “Second Chances” campaign needed to collect 1M signatures by December 31st, 2017 to put an amendment on the ballot in November 2018, which will happen. Our support helped the campaign to meet that goal.
Home is Where Resettlement Starts in Europe
We teamed up with the International Rescue Committee (IRC) to call on our fans to support a historic piece of legislation that would resettle refugees safely into Europe. And good news! Thanks to pressure from our fans throughout Europe, the legislation passed the first hurdle in 2017. It’s called the Union Resettlement Framework, and we believe it’s a crucial step in establishing the responsibility and commitments of member states towards people who have been forced to flee their homes due to war, violence and climate change to find protection.
We were part of supporting a successful first-stage vote in October 2017, which was a crucial phase of the campaign. With almost 20,000 emails to MEP’s and over 19,000 additional petition signatures from the Netherlands alone, we helped create a momentum in the right direction. The October vote was the first part of the process that set out the EU Parliament’s (elected MEPs) position, which was then taken forward in 2018 to negotiate the Council’s position (National MPs).
Equality & Climate Resilience in Asia, Australia & New Ben & Jerry’s Communities
We campaigned in 2017 to achieve Marriage Equality in Australia and won! We also generated awareness in 2017 for LGBT rights in Japan and will stay the course in 2018.
We maintained a broader effort to keep countries to their global commitments in the climate agreement that the world finalized in Paris at the COP21 Conference.
Reducing our Carbon Footprint
We pushed forward on our goal to reduce our carbon footprint 40% (GHG intensity per pint) by 2025 and signed up with the Science Based Target Initiative (SBTi) as the framework for our carbon reduction program.
We are looking throughout our value chain for carbon reductions, especially on the dairy farms we source from, since they represent the single largest carbon footprint in our value chain. To be honest, we didn’t make the gains we wanted to make in 2017. We realized that on-farm project design and implementation has been a bit more challenging and slower in 2017 than we had hoped and intend to make the proper evaluations and adjustments in 2018 to see if we can’t make more progress. But we also want to look internally to do everything we can to find ways we can reduce our carbon footprint: from our employees and sites, through our products and ingredients, throughout our supply chain; we must find ways to cut our greenhouse gasses.
And we continue to advocate, around the world, for governments, communities, businesses and individuals to do their part to achieve the goals that were set at COP21 in Paris in 2015.
We Renewed Our B Corp Certification in 2017!
Certified B Corporations, commonly known as B Corps, are a new type of corporation that uses the power of business to solve social and environmental problems. Certified B Corps must satisfy a rigorous assessment by the non-profit B Lab that covers: corporate governance, worker benefits, community engagement and environmental performance.
In 2012, Ben & Jerry’s became the first wholly-owned subsidiary in the world, with full support from our parent company, Unilever, to gain B Corp Certification!
In late 2016, we completed our third recertification cycle (a two-year term), increasing our overall score on the B Impact Assessment to 110 points (up from 101 in 2014)! Since the 2016 Assessment completed its assurance process in 2017, we will be renewing our B Impact Assessment in 2019.
Our Social Mission Priorities in 2017
Social Equity – Becoming the Company We Aspire To Be
We are working on several fronts to build a workforce and workplace that reflects our values and our communities or, as we call this work, “living our values from the inside, out.”
At Ben & Jerry’s, we are working to create collaborative, sustainable, interdependent global teams that deliver more social mission impact throughout our business. Weaving together the 40 years of our Linked Prosperity model with our ongoing internal work on inclusion and equity, we are changing our internal culture to be the Ben & Jerry’s that we aspire to be. We are intentionally and deliberately transforming our structure and ways of working to build a more resilient, inclusive, globally diverse community that’s ready to contribute to the challenges of making a difference in the world.
Our strategy is to build from a strong base, and that strong base is being created through the individual, whole-person development that we have been supporting and promoting over the past few years, offering broad-based programs to Ben & Jerry’s employees that provide the training and skills to be more inclusive, diverse, empathetic and equitable. This individual development will enable our global teams to carry out a stronger model of Linked Prosperity, which is held up by the pillars of product quality, economic sustainability and social impact.
As part of our work in building a more equitable company, in 2017 we drafted a Social Equity framework, which we intend to use to guide us in becoming a more equitable company, inside and out.
For our internal focus, over the next 3 years, we want to achieve the following two broad goals:
- Use our influence and impact as a food company and major economic and cultural engine to advance opportunities, access and inclusion for marginalized and under-resourced populations across the five pillars of social equity – economics, education, social capital, civic participation and cultural pluralism.
- Use our influence as a buyer and producer to increase awareness of and encourage stakeholders in our supply chain, other similarly situated businesses, and fans to adopt/support policies and practices that help to reduce the negative impacts of climate change specifically on vulnerable, marginalized, and disenfranchised communities.
To do this effectively and engage in a broader cultural and organizational paradigm shift in 2018, Ben & Jerry’s has engaged Race Forward, a third-party nonprofit consultant that specializes in helping institutions to build awareness, solutions, and leadership for racial justice, to provide technical assistance and capacity support to assist with our social equity integration process. Race Forward will work with an interdepartmental core team and key Social Mission staff within Ben & Jerry’s over an anticipated 36-month period to move our Equity agenda forward.
Recruiting and Hiring
2017 was the first full year that we had in place our Intentional Hiring practices at our Central Offices in Vermont. We started them about halfway through 2016. Those practices include a requirement for a broader, balanced slate of diverse candidates before interviewing can begin for an open position. The composition of a balanced slate may vary from search to search. We expect managers to hire the best candidate in any given search, but over time the mix of new hires should reflect the more inclusive talent pool from which we are hiring. We have made progress, but are not yet satisfied with our hiring record for people of color. We intend to further our step-change progress through continued use of balanced slates and development of partnerships with Howard University and other organizations.
We implemented a Values-Led Hiring program at our Vermont manufacturing sites and made Values-Led hiring decisions at our manufacturing plant in the Netherlands. In Vermont, we are working with various stakeholders in a structured program to open up jobs for those who have, for various reasons, barriers to employment. At our Netherlands facility, we have opened up some jobs for refugees escaping areas of conflict. In both cases, we are at the very early stages of these programs, baby steps. But you have to take the seemingly small first steps to start the literal and proverbial longer journey that can provide greater social gains down the road.
Advocacy & Activism
Globally, In 2017, we remained determined to confront some of the most contentious issues of our time: systemic racism in the United States; refugee asylum and resettlement in Europe; Marriage Equality in Germany and Australia, LGBT rights in Japan and keeping countries to their commitments made in Paris at the COP21 conference.
Our advocacy work in 2017 focused on addressing the issues of racial, economic, and environmental justice. That work continues into 2018. We redoubled our efforts to address these issues in 2017 when we began working with the new Poor People’s Campaign and strengthened our commitment to protecting and restoring voter rights. Through our support of the Poor People’s Campaign and other campaigns, we seek to foster positive social change in poor, underserved, and marginalized communities.
The Poor People’s Campaign is a National Call for Moral Revival. It’s a movement calling Americans to unite across race, nationality, and class, to fight poverty, racism, militarism and ecological destruction. We’ve begun using our tools and channels to advance the larger strategy of the Campaign, which seeks to organize and empower poor and disenfranchised people in a way that builds lasting and broad based political power.
We are working closely with the Poor People’s Campaign to identify ways to support capacity building and training, which is a part of the second phase of the Campaign, which is continuing deep into 2018. The first phase, started in 2017, was the initial outreach and campaign launch, followed by capacity building and training in Phase II, and Phase III will be 40 days of direct action starting on Mother’s Day, 2018. While identifying ways to help with capacity building and training, we’re developing a robust engagement strategy designed to educate and activate our fans in support of the national campaign and the events planned in 25 states around the country. We’re also strategically supporting our franchisees in 6 markets where the Campaign will be active and engaging the larger Ben & Jerry’s scoop shop community to learn more about the Campaign and its issues.
Second Chances in Florida
In 2017, the Florida Ben & Jerry’s community supported Floridians for a Fair Democracy’s effort to return the vote to more than 1.6 million permanently disenfranchised Floridians with a felony record. The “Second Chances” campaign, led by Desmond Meade, needed to collect 1M signatures by December 31st, 2017 to put an amendment on the ballot in November 2018, which will happen. Our support helped the campaign to reach that goal. Between October 1st and December 15th of 2017, we scooped free Ben & Jerry’s at multiple state-wide Days of Action, making the work of grassroots organizers much easier. We also created a novel Phone2Action mechanism that allowed Fans to request that a paper petition be mailed to them using their phone or Facebook, driving more than 7,500 actions.
Refugee Rights Supported
In support of the global Refugee Rights campaign, led by our Ben & Jerry’s European Social Mission team, the US team delivered over 20 blogs post specific to Refugee Rights leading to over 110,000 page views. In the last months of 2017, we ran a campaign to get new advocates to join the International Rescue Committee (IRC) and delivered about 40,000 new people.
2017 was a big year for our social mission in Europe. We carried out a variety of campaigns, launched our pilot ICE Academy, (our refugee entrepreneurship program that we started in 2017), and continued to build upon our newly established Foundation’s UK Fund in Europe. We have continued to grow our social mission team in Europe with social mission managers in each of our 5 biggest countries (UK, Netherlands, Germany, France, Sweden). With a growing team in Europe, we are set up to take our social mission work there to the next level. And because of that team, we had big successes throughout 2017, from wind energy in the UK, to democratic engagement in the Netherlands, to marriage equality in Germany and finally through our Together for Refugees campaign across Europe.
Clearly, the biggest effort in 2017 was with our Together for Refugees campaign. Currently, over 65 million people are displaced around the world and European governments are simply not doing enough to support people to find safety and to subsequently prosper in their new communities. In October 2017, we saw a significant step forward when the EU parliament voted to take a progressive position forward on the proposed refugee resettlement policy. We’re not stopping there—we are continuing the campaign in 2018.
Progress in truly improving the lives of refugees and asylum seekers in Europe and elsewhere will be hard fought because it is so complex and fraught with tension points at several levels. Any party entering into this territory will surely experience that the good is better than the perfect especially since no actor on this stage can reach perfection; certainly not on their own. We acknowledge that while policy efforts are important to frame standards and commitments of states, real change will only come with changes in the attitudes of local societies towards people arriving in their communities and improving dialogue between them. Addressing this is a long hard, but essential, road to travel and it will be a key reflection for our future strategy. Perseverance. Resilience. Steps forward.
We will also ensure that we use more of our resources as a business to drive social impact, for example by expanding the ICE Academy, working more with the B Corp community in Europe and other businesses and continuing to grow the Ben & Jerry’s Foundation in Europe.
The Together for Refugees Campaign
We teamed up with the International Rescue Committee (IRC) to call on our fans to support a historic piece of legislation that would resettle refugees safely into Europe. And good news! Thanks to pressure from our fans throughout Europe, the legislation passed the first hurdle in 2017. It’s called the Union Resettlement Framework, and it’s the best chance to help people who have been forced to flee their homes due to war and violence to find protection.
We were part of supporting a successful first-stage vote in October 2017, which was a crucial phase of the campaign. With almost 20,000 emails to MEP’s and over 19,000 additional petition signatures from the Netherlands alone, we helped create a momentum in the right direction. The October vote was the first part of the process that set out the EU Parliament’s (elected MEPs) position, which was then taken forward in 2018 to negotiate the Council’s position (National MPs). We also launched our campaign flavor, Home Sweet Honeycomb, which helped to bring awareness and attention to our campaign.
What happens next?
The discussions about this law will continue until June 2018 and perhaps beyond. Our friends at the IRC will be monitoring the situation closely. Ben & Jerry’s is offering film nights with a screening of 8 Borders 8 Days to grassroots organizations. The documentary follows the journey of a young single mother & her 2 children from Syria to safety.
The ICE Academy for Refugees
To this point in the refugee crisis, there has been a lack of tangible action by business across Europe to support refugees in gaining access to employment, skills or training. There has been a lot of lip service but not a vast amount of action and the statistics clearly show that refugees find it disproportionately difficult to find sustainable employment. For many refugees, entrepreneurship offers a way to bypass the challenges within the labor market and start something of their own.
Ben & Jerry’s teamed up with the Entrepreneurial Refugee Network1 (TERN) in the summer of 2017 to launch a pilot project called the ICE (Ice Cream Entrepreneurs) Academy with 8 refugee entrepreneurs in the UK. The goal of the program is to provide refugees who are interested in starting their own business with the skills and knowledge to be able to develop and test their business idea and ultimately decide if they want to pursue entrepreneurship, before committing to launch a full-scale business.
The program has an explicit focus on progression routes. The ICE Academy is a pre-incubator for individuals to experience running a business and selling. TERN works with each individual throughout the life of the program, helping participants to determine the most relevant progression pathway for them, whether that is into TERN’s full incubator program, into employment, or potentially into other roles. We hope to work with partners, such as Unilever and the TENT Foundation, to expand to between 70-90 ICE Academy participants in 2018, with a vision of up to 500 participants across Europe by 2020.
ASIA, AUSTRALIA & NEW BEN & JERRY’S COMMUNITIES
The Asia, Australia & New Market cluster for Ben & Jerry’s is complex and diverse, with countries at different stages of development and with very different political systems. In these unique environments, we continue to strive for more effective social mission campaigns.
In 2017, we worked to support key local movements, and across the region carried on the fight for climate justice with our first regional campaign. 2017 created a strong base for us to continue with our ‘Cities of Change’ campaign going deeper into climate justice issues and laying a foundation for future social justice campaigns.
Today half of humanity, 3.5 billion people, live in cities. This number will continue to grow. As the majority of people will live in urban areas, the solutions to some of the greatest issues facing humans: climate change, air pollution, natural disasters, social division, must be found in city life. For cities to be fit for the future, they must be inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable. Each Ben & Jerry’s country team will continue to focus on locally relevant issues to tackle carbon emissions and the other big issues linked to it: air pollution, urban mobility, resilience against natural disasters. Our advocacy and activism is designed to encourage countries to make their Paris Agreement commitments a reality, supporting renewable energy solutions, reducing GHG emissions, supporting sustainable transport solutions.
We advocate for our cities to be resilient and sustainable and in doing so help the world stay below critical 2 degrees (Celsius) warming. We envision doing this by advocating that the countries we are a part of meet their Paris Agreement commitments through:
- Transport systems transferring to renewable energy
- Fossil fuel divestment
- Limiting carbon emissions in public facilities/buildings
We are working closely with local NGOs and the movements they support. We want to identify opportunities to drive systemic change through direct policy change. Each campaign has a consumer call to action so that, as well as raising awareness of the issues, fans can be part of the solution.
2017 finished with a historical moment in Australia. After years of pressure by the Equality movement, and over four years of very active Ben & Jerry’s campaigning, the government finally made Marriage Equality legal! From January 2018 forward, loving couples, whatever their sex, will be able to marry. It has been a long journey to get to this point, and we were in it ‘til the very end. While the movement came up against many hurdles along the way, persistence and tireless support was key to winning the hearts and minds of the Australian public, and eventually the government. Congratulations Australia!
Australia is one of the world’s highest carbon emitters per capita, being the 5th largest producer of coal and the highest consumers of coal per capita. Australia, therefore, has a crucial role to play in helping the world to avoid the most dangerous impacts of climate change, as the pollution from Australia’s coal resources alone could take us two-thirds of the way to a two-degree rise in global temperature.
In March of 2017, we joined partner 350 Australia on their #STOPADANI Roadshow around Australia to raise awareness of the Adani mega-mine and the dangers of fossil fuels. We took the campaign to a new audience that 350 Australia wouldn’t otherwise reach, and got our fans to take action to stop its severe consequences to our planet. Most importantly, the Adani Mine remained unfunded in 2017 as all Australian banks, and even Chinese banks, have publicly stated they will not fund the fossil fuel project.
In 2017 we continued to dial up the heat on climate action in Japan. Following electricity deregulation, we were educating Japanese fans on the importance of renewable energy and our global climate goal to achieve 100% clean energy by 2050. We asked them to do their part by encouraging local governments to meet Paris climate commitments and personally switch to renewable energy.
We launched a new flavor “Enerumint (Energymint)” in July to raise awareness of renewable energy and provide Japanese scoopers the opportunity to engage with fans on the issue. At the same time, we encouraged our fans to support our partner, Powershift, by taking a pledge that they were willing to switch to renewable energy. Working with Powershift we presented the results of the pledge to the government, showing the public interest in renewable energy and encouraging them to improve renewable energy infrastructure. The initiative continues to receive a lot of attention in Japan.
In Japan, LGBT still carries a large social stigma, with many LGBT people avoiding coming out to their colleagues or even family for fear of discrimination or rejection. LGBT rights are rarely discussed or debated publicly, and most political parties do not make any formal position on the issue.
In Tokyo, there are only 2 districts that legally support LGBT partners. In 2017, we worked with one of these districts, Shibuya, which has initiated a ‘proof of partnership’ procedure, which serves as recognition of a relationship for purposes such as hospital visits or sharing a lease. Working with the local government there, we have helped to celebrate these partnerships and raise awareness and support the wider LGBT community. In 2018, we will be looking at how we can take the ‘proof of partnership’ certificate to other wards in Tokyo, and down into the Nagoya region. More broadly, working with local partners, we hope to educate Japanese fans on the issues facing the LGBT community, show our support for equal rights and encourage local cities/districts to adopt policies that recognize LGBT relationships.
Our HOP(E) STEP JUMP!! initiative provides flexible work for mothers looking to re-enter the workforce after having children. Our Toyosu scoop shop began trialing a program to provide moms work that fits their lifestyles. An increasing number of moms are heard about the program and there is now a waiting list to attend the seminars. The team has been on a journey to make sure the program works for both moms and the local team and after restructuring the program the first seminar which was a great success. Other companies are also showing interest and joining the seminars to learn how they could join the initiative.
Hop(e) Step Jump! is a great example of how our hiring policies can have an important impact on the local community and great example of Ben & Jerry’s leading other companies to have more equitable policies. In 2018, we will continue to expand the successful HOP(E) STEP JUMP!! initiative.
Air pollution in São Paulo (SP) kills more people than car accidents, breast cancer, and AIDS combined. With some 7 million vehicles already clogging city streets, and about a thousand more being added daily, it's not surprising that São Paulo offers a troubling example of how deadly car culture can be. In 2009, the Law of Climate Change in SP was approved. This law ordered that the entire city bus fleet should use clean fuel by 2018. However, eight years later, the transport companies and city councils haven’t taken any action. The council proposed a new bill in 2017 that would extend the deadlines by 20 years and would reduce the target to only 20% in the next 10 years.
Besides going against the Paris Agreement, this change would impact the health of the millions living in São Paulo. Air pollution in São Paulo will be responsible for more than 95 thousand deaths and could cost almost $ 38 billion to public coffers by 2037.
We launched a campaign with Minha Sampa raising awareness and asking fans to sign a petition against the change in the law. After many events and calls to action we were a part of the fact that significant changes were included to the amended law. As a result, in ten years, at least 50% of collectives will no longer be able to emit CO² and, in 20 years, there should be a 100% reduction of emissions.
Our successful campaign in São Paulo in 2017 shows that we can have an impact on the use of cleaner, renewable energy on public transport and now we want to take this campaign nationwide. In 2018 we will continue to build on the campaign, expanding the scope to other cities in Brazil.
Values Led Sourcing
Evolving Our Dairy Supply Chain
Signing up with the Milk with Dignity program was a singular achievement in 2017. It was a significant threshold to cross on behalf of human rights and speaks volumes to the hard work and perseverance of the worker-led social responsibility movement in Vermont, which underpins the Vermont non-profit, Migrant Justice. It also speaks volumes to the dedicated, hard-working dairy farmers in Vermont who work alongside their farmworkers 365 days a year and strive to provide dignified working conditions for them.
But there is much more happening in our dairy supply chain that doesn’t get the kind of public recognition it deserves.
The family dairy farm is a full ecosystem of people, animals and planet. When you add it all up, our dairy supply chain is one of the most complex we have. It involves hardworking people, hardworking animals and a hardworking planet, all with varying degrees of complexity and risk, economically, environmentally and socially. It presents unique challenges to changing the course of climate change. It involves myriad federal, regional, state and local rules and regulations. Those rules and regulations are different for each country and region in the world from which we source dairy. In the US, it involves arcane pricing mechanisms that result in volatile markets for dairy farmers. In Europe, regulation changes in recent years have created a new level of volatility for dairy farmers there. Creating a model that addresses all of these factors will take innovation and perseverance.
Our vision is that all dairy used by Ben & Jerry’s comes from farms that have:
- Thriving farmers and farm workers
- A good life for cows
- Feed grown ecologically, without use of harmful chemicals or GMOs, and in a way that protects water resources and promotes biological diversity
- Farm operations acting as a net carbon sink through minimizing GHG emissions and sequestering carbon in the soil
These outcomes will be underpinned by building soil health, through regenerative agricultural practices, and public policy changes to address systemic barriers that make it difficult for farmers to transition to these practices.
Building on the pioneering work already started to reduce farm GHG emissions, we are positioned to now lean in and truly lead the way to enable farms to drawdown carbon out of the atmosphere to be sequestered in the soil through regenerative agricultural practices. In 2018, we are bringing together all the experts with whom we’ve worked in developing our GHG strategy, along with The Carbon Underground, to accelerate these efforts.
Throughout our relationship with the Vermont farming community, we have always been impressed with their willingness to participate, try new things, improve what they can. The farming community in Vermont and Northeastern New York is made up of caring, dedicated people who work to run farms that provide dignified working conditions, cared-for animals, and continued practices that attend the soil health and protect water systems. The same is true for the dairy farmers we work with and source from in the Netherlands for our European production.
Implementing the Milk with Dignity program within our dairy program with participating farmers has gone well as we transitioned from 2017 to 2018. It is a testament to both sides of this work, Migrant Justice and its farmworker members, Milk with Dignity and its new management and staff, the member farms of the St. Albans Cooperative Creamery who are implementing the program and a variety of stakeholders in between. As we write this report in 2018, the farming community has stepped up quite remarkably and farms are enrolling in the program at an impressive rate.
As far as where we are going with our dairy program from here, we are now sketching the route to bring us to a long-term destination, including clear short-term milestones (3-5 years) through which our progress can be measured. Thankfully, there are many working and innovating in this space. This dynamic landscape may necessitate course-correction along the way. While some aspects are more straightforward than others, and Milk with Dignity has already created a pathway for achieving our vision for farmworkers, developing the roadmap for how we can solve the complex and deep-rooted problems of dairy farming is overall a very tough challenge. We intend to convene a group of external stakeholders to provide ideas and feedback as we create the roadmap in 2018, and whom can join us through ongoing transparent dialogue as we take this journey over the long term.
Caring Dairy 2017 Summary
Our Caring Dairy program remained the centerpiece for our dairy initiatives in 2017. Caring Dairy is a continuous improvement program that addresses the full dairy farm ecosystem. In 2016, Caring Dairy was re-launched as Caring Dairy 2.0 (CD 2.0 or “2.0”), a stronger and more intensive program. As part of annual program requirements, every participating farmer completes an online self-assessment, implements 2 improvement plans and attends 3 workshops. This lead to the implementation of 160 improvement plans, and attendance at more than 240 workshops by participating farmers in 2017.
Farmers Recognized Real Progress in 20171
The combination of self-assessment, educational activities, and recorded improvement planning has supported farmers to make positive gains. Farmers completing the first two years of CD 2.0 made substantive advances, increasing the numbers of acres planted with cover crops, left untilled or minimally tilled, and decreasing the use of fertilizer.
In 2016, Caring Dairy farmers cut fertilizer use by 2 million pounds. They used less fertilizer by using measurement tools to determine fertilizer needs more accurately. Chemical fertilizer use contributes to greenhouse gases, as well as potential nutrient pollution. The nutrients in chemical fertilizer typically don’t feed the soil, just the plants, and are prone to runoff and leaching. By reducing fertilizer application by almost 30%, Caring Dairy farmers reduced the footprint of their production as well as their production costs.
Of the farmers who have participated in Caring Dairy 2.0 so far, 78 have participated in both 2016 and 2017, allowing us to measure various on-farm changes over time. In 2016, the first year of CD 2.0, farmers reported on their management from 2015; in 2017, they shared their management from 2016. Using the farmers’ self-reported management, between 2015 and 2016, farmers:
- Dramatically increased cover crop use to cover 68% of cropped acres. This rate of cover crop use is more than double the Vermont average of approximately 31%.
– 6,710 acres of cover crops were planted by 78 Caring Dairy farmers in 2015 and 11,026 acres by the same 78 farmers in 2016, an increase of 4,316 acres (68% more). These 11,026 acres represent about 43% of the approximately 25,000 Vermont acres planted with cover crops.
- Reduced the length of crop rotations for annual crops, with 28% of cropped land in rotations of 3 years or fewer.
– Shorter crop rotations mean fewer acres planted to annual crops, and more acreage in permanent vegetation for more of the time. Longer-term use of diverse vegetation promotes soil health and biodiversity, weed control, and reduces nutrient needs and erosion.
– 3,528 acres in 2015 to 4,531 acres in 2016, an increase of 1,003 acres in three-year or shorter rotation
- Reduced soil disturbance on more acreage, a move from 18% to 35% managed with no-till or minimum tillage. This improves soil health, and reduces erosion, production costs, and GHG emissions.
– 3,098 acres in 2015 to 5,711 acres in 2016, an increase of 2,613 cropped acres minimally tilled or not tilled.
- Used 28% less fertilizer between 2015 and 2016, a reduction of almost 2 million pounds of commercial fertilizer in 2016.
– 19% fewer lbs of Nitrogen (N) applied, 4.02 million lbs used in 2015 down to 3.24 million lbs in 2016, a reduction of 777,479 lbs.
– 22% fewer lbs of Phosphorus (P) applied, 534,170 lbs down to 414,585 lbs, a reduction of 119,585 lbs.
– 47% fewer lbs of Potassium (K) were applied, 2.15 million lbs dropped to 1.13 million lbs, a reduction of 1,011,598 lbs.
- Used 10% less electricity, a reduction of nearly 1.4 million kWh.
1 Due to a one-year lag in the Caring Dairy data reporting cycle, the year-on-year results presented in section are based on 2015 vs. 2016 data sets, unless otherwise indicated.
Measuring The On-Farm Footprint
Farmers also helped determine their farms’ carbon footprints as a baseline, to help find ways to reduce that footprint. Working with a member of the Caring Dairy team, farmers collected data for the COMET program, a carbon footprint model developed by Colorado State University and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). After a full year of data collection and analysis in 2016, carbon footprint measurement will go forward with full-farm Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) for some farms. The scale of COMET included field-by-field data collection, which allows increased detail, but is intensely time consuming. Other recently-developed models are being reviewed as alternative measurement tools.
As in 2016, farmers are compiling farm records to measure whole farm nutrient balance, including phosphorus imports and exports. Farmers are also assessing the environmental risk of on-farm chemical use with the Environmental Yardstick. This tool models the impact of chemical use on ground water, aquatic organisms, soil organisms, pollinators, and beneficial insects. As data from 2017 is compiled and analyzed, we will be able to determine any projected change in impacts due to changes in management.
More Farmers Reach Higher Tiers in Caring Dairy
In 2017, farmers scored higher in almost every section of the self-assessment, and seven out of 11 sections reached or exceeded 75%. The one area where scores dropped slightly were in Animal Care, due to more stringent scoring by on-farm vet reviews for 69 of the farms. Animal Care still had the highest score, of 81%. Farmers eligible for Silver or Gold levels of achievement were required to have an on-farm review of animal care by a program-certified veterinarian. Please note that Section 6 does not appear, which was the Farmworker section of Caring Dairy. It was removed due to the impending implementation of the Milk with Dignity program, which covers labor.
With greater achievements in the self-assessment, the number of farms eligible for Basic, Silver, and Gold levels of achievement changed from 2016 to 2017, with more farmers in higher tiers of achievement year over year. In 2016, 47 on-farm verifications were conducted by Where Food Comes From (WFCF), and 49 on-farm verifications are planned for 2017 Silver or Gold-eligible farms.
This performance demonstrates farmers motivation to make changes due to the compensation that Ben & Jerry’s has offered and their dedication to improve their business. The compensation paid to farmers above their raw material costs increased between 2016 to 2017. In 2016, we paid over $2.6 million in direct premiums to farmers in the Caring Dairy program. In 2017, we paid over $3.3 million in direct premiums to farmers in the Caring Dairy program.
Caring Dairy Europe
Caring Dairy 2.0 is newer to our dairy supply chain in the Netherlands than it is to our US dairy supply chain. We convened a 2-day dairy workshop, early in 2018, to address our dairy supply chain in the Netherlands. The intention is to have a dairy program that is aligned between our US and Netherlands’ supply chains and delivers on our dairy vision that serves to provide dignified lives for the farmers and farmworkers and delivers the best in animal care and regenerative agricultural practices.
[Values Led Sourcing]
Fairtrade & Our Producer Development Initiative (PDI)
Ben & Jerry’s has a unique partnership with Fairtrade International that works to benefit producers and influence consumers globally. Ben & Jerry’s joined the Fairtrade movement in 2005 and our products are now 100% certified (5 Key commodities: sugar, cocoa, vanilla, coffee, bananas; and almonds) across the Ben & Jerry’s product range. Fairtrade International has grown to represent over 1.65 million farmers and workers.
For us, Fairtrade represents the values-based standards that we want to achieve from the sourcing of our sugar, cocoa, vanilla, coffee, banana and almonds. We want fair-trading terms with the small-holder agricultural producers in our supply chain, open up their access to global markets, see that they work under safe and just operating conditions, and that they use methods of sustainable agriculture.
In 2017, Ben & Jerry’s sourced Fairtrade commodity ingredients from 14 origins through 36 Small Producer Organization (SPOs) involving 173,000 cooperative members and their extended communities; women account for one third of the members in these SPOs.
Our Fairtrade partnership continued in 2017 to focus on four key areas, identified in the partnership roadmap established in 2016:
- Improved global partnership operations between Fairtrade and Ben & Jerry’s
- Increased supply chain transparency
- Focused market development: USA, Europe and other Ben & Jerry’s markets
- Aligned producer development between Fairtrade system and B&J’s Producer Development Initiative (PDI)
2018 deliverables for the Ben & Jerry’s and Fairtrade partnership are:
- Successful co-leadership of the Producer Development Initiative by Fairtrade Foundation.
- Joint activation and collaboration between Fairtrade and Ben & Jerry’s teams.
Beyond 2020: Recognizing our Values-Led Sourcing aspiration of operating at the juncture of social equity and climate change, Ben & Jerry’s and Fairtrade are preparing for deeper discussion on impact at origin, changing market needs, role of certification, and innovating in this space.
In 2017, we made progress in our cocoa and vanilla supply chains and set up projects for 2018 within our sugar and almond supply chains.
What We Did in 2017
- We purchased 100% Fairtrade-certified cocoa powder, which met our 2017 goal
- We launched 86 “Productivity Packages” with cocoa producers, missing our target of 150
- We increased value for cocoa producers by over 171%, over shooting our 36% target
– However, this high percentage was because the cocoa prices fell below the Fairtrade premium price minimum, which triggered the value-add of having that safety net floor-price in place for Fairtrade producers
- We purchased 100% Fairtrade vanilla extract, which met our 2017 goal
- Increase vanilla vines by 190,000 vines within Fairtrade community, which we achieved
- Increase value created at origin by $150,000, which we achieved.
- In 2016 we worked with Palestinian Fairtrade-certified almond producers on Phase 1 to improve almond tree quality by planting heartier varieties with high-quality pollinator seedlings and helping them to better manage existing orchards
- In 2017 our Phase 2 Project was put on hold until 2018 for further evaluation of the program details
Fairtrade is deep into its global strategy ‘Changing Trade, Changing Lives 2016-2020.’ This strategy recognizes the urgency of the challenges facing the world and Fairtrade recognizes that the movement is still far from achieving the ambitious goal of a world where trade can be a tool of opportunity and inclusion for all.
In 2018 we will continue to work on a partnership that drives a successful co-leadership of the Producer Development Initiative with the Fairtrade Foundation and promotes more activation and collaboration between our teams. Looking further out, and recognizing our Values-Led Sourcing aspiration of operating at the juncture of social equity and climate change, Ben & Jerry’s and Fairtrade are preparing for deeper discussions on impact at origin, changing market needs, role of certification, and more innovation in this space.
Reducing Our Carbon Footprint
We’ve heard the call from the global experts about what we all need to do to keep our planet earth from reaching a 2-degree (Celsius) temperature increase by the year 2050. We need to put a price on carbon. We need to retire fossil fuels and develop renewable energy. We need to take steps, where possible, to inset carbon, such as through agricultural practices.
We’ve been working on our piece of that collective puzzle. We’ve done a lifecycle analysis (LCA) of our products, using the pint container as our unit of measure. We know how much carbon equivalent is represented in a pint of Ben & Jerry’s, a little over three pounds.
We know where carbon is in our value chain
We are going after the biggest carbon footprints first. Our goal is to reduce our carbon by 40% by intensity (per pint container) by 2025 and 80% by intensity (per pint) by 2050. That doesn’t quite get us to the ultimate goal the experts say we need to achieve (80% Absolute reduction by 2050), but it gets us on the path towards that global goal and puts us within reach. We anticipate that there will be much innovation between now and 2050 that will help us accelerate our carbon reduction in the decades ahead of us.
The highlights of what we did in 2017 include:
- Placing a separator on the largest farm in the Caring Dairy program providing a total reduction of 15,238 mtCO2e.
- Final stages of putting a separator on a second Caring Dairy farm providing a total of 12,993 mtCO2e
- Final stages of our first small scale digester on a Dutch farm providing a total approximate reduction of 10,000 mtCO2e.
- Second small-scale digester on a Dutch farm is in the final evaluation stages, providing an estimate 5,700 mtCO2e.
- In-depth evaluation of mobile separation, while not viable at this time, proved to be a huge learning opportunity.
- Potential to pilot a small-scale digester on a Caring Dairy farm(s) in 2018. This will be a first for farms under 300 cows, which is significant.
- 50+ solution plans (technologies and practice improvements) for reducing GHG emissions on dairy farms have been evaluated, twelve were categorized as not viable. Small-scale digestion, nutrient/soil (no-till and N reduction), and biofuels are examples that show strong potential and are moving through our development process.
- Evaluated waste heat capture projects at the St. Albans manufacturing plant, one of which will be implemented and supported financially by Unilever’s (Small Action Bid Difference fund, 129,000€). The carbon reduction from this project is approximately 395 tons, reduce electricity for heating hot water. Final numbers will be verified after the project is complete.
- Emission reductions from reduced use of nitrogen based fertilizers on Caring Dairy farms is 2,283 mtCO2e.
Our Greenhouse Gas (GHG) reduction goals are set at long-term trajectories, 2025 and 2050, which makes it hard to have single-year targets when you might have accelerating reductions in progressive years as projects kick in over time. However, to hold ourselves to some standard, if we average the intensity reduction per year from our baseline year of 2015 to our first target year of 2025, we should average about 4% intensity reduction per year, over that time, to hit the 40% reduction target. We only reached about 2% in 2017, but we made forward progress and believe we made the adjustments within the program to get us on track to meet our 2025 target, which is the most important target to keep in our sights.
Our Scoop Shops & Franchisee Community
2017 Social Mission Campaign
During the fall of 2017 we partnered with Color of Change and asking our fans to call on the US Congress to re-authorize the Voting Rights Act. New for 2017 was an upgrade to our Voting Rights petition, using a new technical platform called Phone 2 Action. This service allowed users to text a word to a number and be served a web page on their mobile device where they can take action.
“Social equity allows us to envision a world where all people, regardless of race, ethnic origin, gender, religion, or sexual orientation, are afforded equal opportunity and full access to resources that enables us all to have a high quality of life, rooted in fairness, justice, and dignity”
Our franchise community is made up of passionate, committed scoop shop owners who live in and care about the communities where their scoop shops are located. In 2017, we continued to take steps within our franchise community that presented opportunities to be engaged in our Social Mission and develop their management and staff to do so too.
One of our key programs is the Ben & Jerry’s Core Academy. The Core Academy is an online curriculum we developed in partnership with Champlain College, which is based in Burlington, VT. The Academy is designed to help students with a variety of life skills that can help them while they are part of the Ben & Jerry’s family and long after they may move on to other endeavors. The Core Academy provides the student four course options:
- Beyond the Job: a course in a variety of beneficial life skills and emotional intelligence
- The Activism Academy: How we can become effective advocates and activists
- Making a Difference: Deeper concepts that can lead to creating a social enterprise
- Social Equity in Action: Developing an inclusive, diverse, equitable view of the world
In 2017, we had 151 graduates from the Core Academy out of 187 who registered. We are encouraged about the interest in the Academy, the high percentage of those completing the program and the positive feedback we are receiving from attendees. We have people signing up from throughout the company: scoop shops, manufacturing, regional offices around the world and our Central offices in Vermont. We intend to continue to improve and add to the Academy to provide the Ben & Jerry’s community with these effective courses.
Scoop Shops’ Social Mission in Asia, Australia & New Markets
This year, the major Social Mission campaign in Australia, which garnered much spotlight would be none other than the Marriage Equality campaign. We won! It was a long fight and from the attention generated with the Ban 2 Scoops campaign, to the numerous postcards gathered and delivered to the local MPs in pushing for the free vote, all these actions demonstrated our firm stand and belief for Marriage Equality – because as we all know – love is love! The great news that Australian’s are resoundingly in favor of Marriage Equality, with 61.6% of voters in support of legalizing same-sex marriage! After these results, on 7th of December, the Parliament passed the bill and announced the legalization of same sex marriage.
Also in Australia, the “Scoop Ice Cream not Coal” project was activated in the scoop shops.
Regionally, many team members became Activism Academy graduates. This is a milestone for us in nurturing our team in becoming true activists.
Japan’s team has been supporting the Social Mission focus of Climate and Social Justice through organizing Benefit Nights in scoop shops. Two well executed Benefit Nights were held in 2017:
- A Climate Justice Night with PowerShift sharing session
- An LGBT Night held together with Shibuya Ward where partnership certificates are given out for same sex couples.
Japan’s team initiative to support mother’s in going back to the workforce, the HOP(E) STEP JUMP project is coming on a second wave to spread the cause to a large audience this time round.
Our scoop shops in Singapore get their supply of bakery items, such as brownies and cookies, from the SCORE Bakery, which is part of the reintegration of ex-offenders program. Also in 2017, scoop shop teams supported the Yellow Ribbon Project Run with over 2,500 scoops of ice creams. Our scoopers volunteered to scoop out the delicious ice cream under the hot Singapore sun to reward runners who completed the run and continue to embrace reintegration mindset of ex-offenders back into society.
Scoop Shops’ Social Mission in Europe
In the UK in 2017, we supported the Felix Project, making food collections and deliveries every Monday evening in London. This organization is saving food and changing lives by delivering surplus supermarket and café goods direct to vunerable people across London. We donated surplus ice cream to various charities across the London.
We also continued our support in 2017 of SPEAR, a charity benefitting the homeless, and scooped at the annual Christmas Meal for vulnerable clients.
Following our One Sweet World event back in 2016, we made friends with Asma Meer and were keen to help support her ‘Peace of Cake’ movement that supports bringing people together from all faiths and backgrounds. We hosted the September 2017 event at the Soho Ben & Jerry’s scoop shop. It was a huge success with over 30 people attending to come together and share stories. It was great to see the shop acting as a social hub, we can’t wait to activate more activities like this in 2018.
How We Work
Since our acquisition in 2000, Ben & Jerry’s remains a wholly owned subsidiary of Unilever. Today, our packaged ice cream, novelties & new non-dairy products are sold all over the world, primarily as packaged products through retail outlets. Additionally, our euphoric flavors can be found in one of our many scoop shop outlets, which operate, as of 2017, in about 22 different countries!
Our products are produced in pints, quarts, 500 ml cups, 2.4 gallon, 9.08 liter and 4.5 liter tubs, single-serve cups and individual novelties; and these are distributed in supermarkets, grocery stores, convenience stores, scoop shops, restaurants and other venues. By the end of 2017, Ben & Jerry’s products were marketed and distributed in about 38 countries throughout the world by affiliated companies within Unilever, and a third-party licensee in Israel.
In terms of the basics, Ben & Jerry’s global business is managed out of our Central Support offices in South Burlington, Vermont. Ben & Jerry’s sits within Unilever’s Food & Refreshments division, which was managed globally in 2017 out of London and regionally from Unilever offices in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey.
Based on a unique acquisition agreement, Ben & Jerry’s and Unilever set up a governance structure that was unprecedented at the time and served to keep Ben & Jerry’s thriving in perpetuity as a values-led company.
Ben & Jerry’s Board of Directors
Our CEO, Jostein Solheim, receives direction, counsel and support from an independent Ben & Jerry’s Board of Directors (the Board), established at the time of the Unilever acquisition.
The Board is responsible for Ben & Jerry’s Social Mission and the Essential Integrity of Ben & Jerry’s, which includes, among other things, product quality and standards. In this role, the Board advises and supports Ben & Jerry’s senior management in maintaining and strengthening the Company’s three-part Mission Statement and protecting Ben & Jerry’s brand equity. As the business continues to grow globally, the Board remains focused on making sure the Company’s three-part mission remains intact and at the core of what we do.
Throughout 2017, the Ben & Jerry’s Board continued its work focusing the Company on its over-arching business vision of a sustainable model of linked prosperity for all of Ben & Jerry’s stakeholders, from seed to freezer. Moreover, the Board was deeply involved in leading management and the entire Ben & Jerry’s organization in examining issues of race, class and gender equity – inside & outside the organization.
The Ben & Jerry’s Board is made up of global leaders in social, economic and environmental advocacy and activism. Our Board is growing more diverse and has been proactive in recruiting new members with the experience and expertise they will need to address the complex issues we will face in years to come. The Board meets in full on a quarterly basis, and conducts ongoing committee work throughout the year.
Our 3-Part Mission
Ben & Jerry’s is founded on and dedicated to a sustainable corporate concept of Linked Prosperity. Our mission consists of three interrelated parts:
To make, distribute and sell the finest quality ice cream and euphoric concoctions with a continued commitment to incorporating wholesome, natural ingredients and promoting business practices that respect the Earth and the Environment.
To operate the Company on a sustainable financial basis of profitable growth, increasing value for our stakeholders and expanding opportunities for development and career growth for our employees.
To operate the company in a way that actively recognizes the central role that business plays in society by initiating innovative ways to improve the quality of life locally, nationally and internationally.
Central to the Mission of Ben & Jerry's is the belief that all 3 parts must thrive equally in a manner that commands deep respect for individuals in & outside the Company & supports the communities of which they are a part.
While the principles underlying the three part mission help guide our day-to-day decisions, our Progressive Values Statement serves as an enduring reminder of our core beliefs.
A Sustainable Model of Linked Prosperity
Within the preamble of our three-part Mission Statement, which was written in 1988, is the dedication to “a sustainable corporate concept of linked prosperity.” Numerous academics and progressive business visionaries have advocated for similar models in recent years, which is a solid affirmation of our model, but we’ve been working on strengthening it, bringing new meaning to it, ever since. We’re still working on it. We always will be.
What we envision with our Linked Prosperity model is that as the company prospers, all those touched by the company must also prosper, including employees, suppliers, customers, and communities. It’s a simple idea, really, but it takes a lot of work by a lot of people, day in and day out, to make it happen.
Some of the more long-standing examples of linked prosperity at Ben & Jerry’s include:
- Our livable wage policy.
- Our ongoing support for family dairy farms.
- Our commitment to supporting small-holder agricultural producers by purchasing Fairtrade-certified ingredients.
- Our investment in values-led sourcing partnerships such as with the Greyston Bakery in Yonkers, NY, where they hire people with barriers to employment and empower them with skills training, a renewed sense of dignity and a paycheck at the end of the week.
We do believe that as the individual benefits the community benefits, benefitting all. Linked Prosperity must create benefits for the individual, the community, the planet; it’s all linked. Throughout 2017 and into 2018, we continued to explore what a sustainable corporate concept of linked prosperity means today, in all its forms.
Progressive Values Statement
Leading with Progressive Values Across Our Business
We have a progressive, nonpartisan Social Mission that seeks to meet human needs and eliminate injustices in our local, national, and international communities by integrating these concerns into our day-to-day business activities. Our focus is on children and families, the environment and sustainable agriculture on family farms.
- Capitalism and the wealth it produces do not create opportunity for everyone equally. We recognize that the gap between the rich and the poor is wider than at any time since the 1920s. We strive to create economic opportunities for those who have been denied them and to advance new models of economic justice that are sustainable and replicable.
- By definition, the manufacturing of products creates waste. We strive to minimize our negative impact on the environment.
- The growing of food is overly reliant on the use of toxic chemicals and other methods that are unsustainable. We support sustainable and safe methods of food production that reduce environmental degradation, maintain the productivity of the land over time, and support the economic viability of family farms and rural communities.
- We seek and support nonviolent ways to achieve peace and justice. We believe government resources are more productively used in meeting human needs than in building and maintaining weapons systems.
- We strive to show a deep respect for human beings inside and outside our company and for the communities in which they live.
B Corp Certification
Certified B Corporations, commonly known as B Corps, are a new type of corporation that uses the power of business to solve social and environmental problems. Certified B Corps must satisfy a rigorous assessment by the non-profit B Lab that covers: corporate governance, worker benefits, community engagement and environmental performance.
In 2012, Ben & Jerry’s became the first wholly-owned subsidiary in the world, with full support from our parent company, Unilever, to gain B Corp Certification!
In late 2016, we completed our third recertification cycle (a two-year term), increasing our overall score on the B Impact Assessment to 110 points (up from 101 in 2014)! Since the 2016 Assessment completed its assurance process in 2017, we will be renewing our Assessment in 2019.
The B Corp community is challenging itself and its member B Corps to counter the recent trend of divisive social and political actions by building an inclusive economy.
Learn more about B Corporations and view Ben & Jerry’s Impact Assessment.
We are proud to have recognized the efforts of other B Corps with whom we work, at various levels and stages of our value chain:
The Greyston Bakery
Based in Yonkers, New York, the Greyston Bakery has been supplying Ben & Jerry’s with chocolate brownies for our Chocolate Fudge Brownie flavor for close to three decades. At Greyston, producing great baked goods is part of their greater-good mission to provide jobs and training to people with barriers to employment.
The Bakery is owned by the Greyston Foundation, a nonprofit organization with a mission to support people with barriers to employment on the path to self-sufficiency. Through their open door hiring policy, when a job becomes available, the next person on the waiting list is given a job starting in an apprentice program, no questions asked.
Greyston’s programs reach over 2,000 people a year through child care, housing, counseling, health care, and other services. Over the lifetime of our business relationship with Greyston, over 3,200 jobs have been created through the Bakery and over 19,000 families have benefitted through the Greyston organization’s programs and services. The Greyston Bakery is a certified B Corp.
Rhino Foods is another longtime supplier that makes those incredible gobs of cookie dough we use in our Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough ice cream. Based right here in Burlington, Vermont, Rhino became a certified B Corp in 2013.
Over the years, Rhino has developed a variety of programs that support its employees and the surrounding community. Rhino employs dozens of people who have come to the United States as refugees from all around the world. Through a unique variety of support programs, Rhino helps these and all of its employees to earn a living, save money, develop a credit history, and make a new life for themselves and their families.
Sustainable Harvest® is an importer of high quality specialty-grade coffees from over 15 countries around the world. In addition to being a key actor in our Fairtrade coffee value chain, Sustainable Harvest® is also a certified B-Corp.
Based in Scotland, Macphie is a supply partner for the cookie dough used in Ben & Jerry’s products made in the EU. In 2015, Macphie became one of the first UK companies to achieve B-Corp certification.
NativeEnergy is an expert provider of carbon offsets, renewable energy credits, and carbon accounting software. NativeEnergy helps businesses and individuals identify and reduce their greenhouse gas pollution and attain their sustainability goals. Based in Burlington, Vermont, NativeEnergy is a certified B-Corp.
Pure Strategies aims to transform business to create a more sustainable future. Since 1998, Pure Strategies has helped to build leading strategies for companies, improve products and packaging, and shifting supply chains toward better environmental and social performance. Pure Strategies is a certified B Corp.
Ben & Jerry’s products for the North American market are made in our manufacturing plants in Waterbury and St. Albans, Vermont, as well as in a Unilever facility in Henderson, Nevada. Ben & Jerry’s ‘Pint Slices’ are made at a Unilever facility located in Covington, Tennessee. Additionally, we continue to make products for the Canadian market in a Unilever facility in Simcoe, Ontario.
During 2017, Ben & Jerry’s products for European markets were produced at a Unilever factory in Hellendoorn, the Netherlands; while the ‘Wich’ novelty sandwiches were made by a co-packer in Greece.
Products for Asia, Australia & Brazil were exported from these U.S. and European facilities.
During 2017, approximately 130 employees reported in to Ben & Jerry’s Central offices in South Burlington, Vermont. During this same period, our Vermont Manufacturing sites continued to employ more than 330 people in and around the communities of St. Albans & Waterbury, Vermont.
Ben & Jerry’s is committed to paying all of its workers a Livable Wage, and our Livable Wage policy continues to cover all full and part-time employees in our Vermont manufacturing plants and in all of our company-owned scoop shops. In 1995, we established a methodology for calculating a livable wage benchmark for Vermont. We defined it as the starting wage for a single person that will sustain a reasonable quality of life, taking into consideration essential expenditures on needs such as:
- Housing, utilities & transportation
- Nutritious food
- Out-of-pocket health care
- Savings, taxes, and miscellaneous expenses
In 2017, we paid an entry-level hourly livable wage rate of $17.26, which translates to approximately $35,900, per year. To put this into some context, at year-end 2017, the Vermont minimum wage was $10.00/hr ($20,800/yr), while the federal minimum wage was $7.25/hr ($15,080/yr). On January 1, 2018, the Vermont minimum wage increased to $10.50/hr ($21,840/yr), while the federal minimum wage has remained constant since 2009.
We continue to review how our livable wage stands up for the primary employees who make Ben & Jerry’s products outside of our Vermont manufacturing sites; including Hellendoorn, in the Netherlands.
Tracking Ben & Jerry’s Livable Wage (Vermont basis)
2017 - $17.26
2016 - $17.09
2015 - $16.92
2014 - $16.29
2013 - $16.13
Code of Business Principles
All of the suppliers for Ben & Jerry’s ice cream are expected to follow practices consistent with the Code of Business Principles of our parent company, Unilever. This code includes: continuous improvement in managing environmental impacts, safe and healthy standards for workers, and a firm commitment to human rights, among other things. Unilever is also a signatory to the U.N. Secretary General’s Global Compact of 1999, which commits the company to support and respect human rights within our sphere of influence.
The Ben & Jerry’s Foundation
The Ben & Jerry’s Foundation was created in 1985, with an initial gift from Ben of 50,000 shares of Ben & Jerry’s stock and an unprecedented decision of the company’s Board of Directors to commit 7 ½% of the company’s annual pretax profits to philanthropy. Following the acquisition of Ben & Jerry’s by Unilever in the year 2000, the for-profit Ben & Jerry’s provides annual funding to the non-profit Ben & Jerry’s Foundation under a funding formula memorialized within the acquisition agreement. In 2017, the Company contributed a total of $3,440,393 to the Ben & Jerry’s Foundation.
The Ben & Jerry’s Foundation interests are in social justice, protecting the environment and supporting sustainable food systems. The Foundation is committed to supporting non-violent, thoughtful and strategic approaches that are utilizing grassroots organizing strategies to work for social change.
The Foundation’s philanthropy is led by Ben & Jerry’s employees who serve on committees that review grants.
The Ben & Jerry’s Foundation believes that:
- People most affected by a problem are in the best position to determine the solutions to that problem.
- True change occurs only when underlying, systemic forces are understood and addressed.
- Grassroots, constituent-led organizing is among the most effective means to create social change. We define organizing as collective action that challenges the status quo, demands changes in policy and practice, educates communities about root causes of social problems, and advocates and agitates for systemic and just solutions.
- Lasting change occurs when Social Justice Movements are built from the ground up and grassroots groups come together across sectors and constituencies to work for the common principles of Human Rights and Justice for All.
The Foundation administers four grant programs serving Vermont and the U.S. It also serves our newly developing UK Fund:
The Ben & Jerry's Foundation Grassroots Organizing for Social Change Program offers competitive grants to non-profit, grassroots community organizing groups throughout the United States and Vermont. The grants fund organizations working to bring about progressive social change by addressing the underlying conditions of societal and environmental problems through constituent-led organizing and activist strategies. See grants awarded in 2017.
The Vermont Capacity Building Grant Program supports Vermont statewide organizations to achieve greater organizational strength and sustainability. Organizations must be aligned with the Foundation’s broad interests in social justice, environmental protection and sustainable food systems. See grants awarded in 2017.
The Vermont Economic Justice Grant Program supports Vermont-based organizations helping to alleviate the impacts of poverty and work toward social, environmental and economic justice in the state of Vermont. See grants awarded in 2017.
CATs fund an array of community programs - social services organizations, cultural, recreational, or arts programs and community celebrations located within the state of Vermont. The CATs pay special attention to underserved populations including seniors, at-risk youth and low income communities. The CATs prioritize support for basic human needs and the needs of underserved areas of the state as well as organizations that are primarily volunteer-led. See the grants awarded in 2017.
The Ben & Jerry’s Foundation provided funding to 398 organizations in 2017 totaled $3,220,393.
Our Foundation’s UK Fund
In 2016 the Ben & Jerry’s Foundation set aside $200,000 to launch a UK Fund, which retains the US Foundation’s belief in supporting social justice movements and community organizing but focuses entirely on refugee and asylum seeker led groups in the UK.
The UK Foundation funds organizations that are working to improve the systems under which refugees and migrants are supported to settle in the UK and are able to take a full and active role within society. The Foundation’s UK Fund targets its funding to groups that work to drive change in the following areas:
- Supporting refugee, asylum-seeker and migrant groups to come together to target system change – The Foundation recognizes that the voices of those most affected by the issues are best placed to identify and tackle systemic constraints and mobilize to create real and lasting change. It therefore funds projects that put refugee and migrant groups at the heart of their organization.
- Changing perceptions within the public consciousness – The Foundation funds organizations that combat stigma and challenge negative perceptions around the role of refugees, asylum seekers and migrants within society, as well as those that empower local communities to provide a positive and inclusive welcome.
Our philanthropy in the UK, as in the US, is led by Ben & Jerry’s employees who serve on committees that review grant applications. Although it is funded by the Ben & Jerry’s business, the Ben & Jerry’s Foundation is completely independent in its views and objectives to that of the business.
For now, all of the grants from our UK Fund of the Ben & Jerry’s Foundation go to supporting refugee and asylum seeker led organizations in the UK. We don’t fund ‘service delivery’, i.e. what the government should be providing to support people through the asylum process and to help them integrate into British society. Instead, the UK Fund supports organizations that are campaigning to improve policy and organizing communities to campaign for change. We also only fund organizations which are refugee or asylum-seeker led as we believe those most affected by the issues are in the best place to change them.
Funding provided by the UK Fund to eight organizations in 2017 totaled $220,000.
In 2018, we will continue this focus on refugee and asylum seeker led organizations in the UK and aim to expand the employee committee to provide more opportunities for people in other parts of the business, outside of the social mission team, to join the committee.
Review Report of Independent Accountants
Independent Auditor's Report
For our 2017 report, we engaged Moss Adams LLP, an independent accounting firm, to review specific Quality of Results indicators that Ben & Jerry’s set as priorities for the year.