When Ben and Jerry first started churning up ice cream in an abandoned gas station in Vermont, USA in 1978, they knew right away that their business was going to be a bit different. And not only because their chock-full-of-chunks-and-swirls ice cream flavors were like nothing anyone had ever seen before.
Their vision was simple: Make the best possible ice cream in the best possible way, and strive to ensure that everyone who has a hand in making it gets their fair share of the pie. They believed that businesses had a responsibility to give back, so they created a revolutionary three-part mission guided by a set of progressive values. The result was a new business model built on the wild idea that an ice cream company could be a force for progressive social change.
Today, we’re still guided by those core values and we seek to use our company to advance the causes of:
Human rights and dignity
Social and economic justice
Environmental protection, restoration, and regeneration
It Starts With Our Ice Cream
From the milk and cream to the fudgy brownies and cookie dough chunks, our values are swirled into all our flavours. How do we do that? Let’s take a look:
We start with milk and cream from family-owned dairy farms. We’re proud to be the very first dairy buyer to adopt the Milk with Dignity program, a farmworker-led social responsibility program designed to ensure dignified working and living conditions on dairy farms in the northeast US.
All our flavors are Fairtrade Certified, which means that we support smallholder sugar, cocoa, vanilla, banana, and coffee farmers who receive an additional social premium on top of the purchase price of their crop. They can then use this additional money to support their families, build climate resilience into their operations, and support thriving communities through health services, education, affordable housing, and more.
Our delicious fudgy brownies come from Greyston Bakery in Yonkers, New York, whose open hiring policy means they offer jobs to members of the community who face barriers to employment and who have been historically marginalized.
The chunks of euphoric cookie dough in our flavors come from Rhino Foods, a certified B-Corp that hires and supports members of the migrant and refugee community in Burlington, Vermont.
Beyond The Pint
But our work to make the world a little bit better doesn’t end with our ice cream flavors. Outside of our values-led ingredient sourcing, we also partner with civil society organizations to support their strategies to advance progressive social change. We seek to use our power and privilege as a successful for-profit company to stand in solidarity with those who are building people-powered movements to advance the causes of social, environmental, and racial justice.
We know that there continue to be systems and institutions around the globe that perpetuate white supremacy, and it’s not right. In the US, we partner with some of the nation’s most impactful racial justice organizations to fight for an end to white supremacy and fundamental change to the systems that perpetuate it. We mobilize our fans to take action to reimagine public safety, rebuild the racist criminal legal system, defend the voting rights of those who have been historically marginalized, and more.
Across Europe, we work with leading refugee rights organizations to protect and advance the rights of refugees and people seeking asylum. This movement aims to encourage greater international cooperation in resettling displaced people, improve national systems of asylum and resettlement, and build connections between locals and newcomers.
We also stand with those who are building a movement for climate justice that acknowledges the disproportionate impact that climate change has on historically marginalized communities. From drought and devastating wildfires to accelerating sea level rise and increasingly powerful storms, the real victims of a warming planet are not just polar bears and ice caps, but people. But just because we all feel the impact of a steadily warming climate, doesn’t mean we all feel it equally. We seek to center the voices and experiences of frontline communities who are enduring the worst of its effects.
We have also long been advocates for full equity and equality for those in the LGBTQ+ community. All around the world, LGBTQ+ people face discrimination in housing, education, health care, and beyond. It’s not right, and it’s not fair. We work with leading non-profit organizations to advocate for the rights of those in the LGBTQ+ community and stand with them in the struggle for their full rights and dignity.
So Much More Than Fudge Chunks & Caramel Swirls
Is it odd that an ice cream company is so invested in using its power and privilege to pursue progressive social change? Maybe. But we’ve always been a little odd, and we think the rights and dignity of everyone, especially those who have been historically marginalized, is what gives our company its meaning and mission. Ever since they churned up their first batch of ice cream in 1978, Ben and Jerry’s vision has been to make the world a little sweeter and more just — one scoop at a time.