The CEOs With the White Hats!

Company Profile: Ben & Jerry's Homemade, Inc.

The following article was originally published in the Fall 1996 issue of Working People.

The Department of Labor has singled out companies who demonstrate positive corporate citizenship for special recognition. Ben & Jerry’s is one such company, having implemented worker friendly programs in the following corporate citizenship areas: Economic Security and Partnership with Employees.

Founded as a two-man business in 1978, Ben & Jerry's has grown to be one of Vermont's largest employers. With over 800 employees, Ben & Jerry's produces superpremium ice cream, frozen yogurt, sorbet, and novelties. The company now has 140 franchised ice cream scoop shops across the country. Ben & Jerry's international operations include a joint venture (Iceverks) in Karelia, Russia; licensees in Israel and Canada; and distribution in the United Kingdom, France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg.

In 1988, Ben & Jerry's Homemade, Inc. created a document called the Statement of Mission. It is quoted here in its entirety:

Ben & Jerry's is dedicated to the creation and demonstration of a new corporate concept of linked prosperity. Our mission consists of three interrelated parts:

Product Mission: To make, distribute, and sell the finest quality, all-natural ice cream and related products in a wide variety of innovative flavors made from Vermont dairy products.

Social Mission: To operate the company in a way that actively recognizes the central role that business plays in the structure of society by initiating innovative ways to improve the quality of life of a broad community--local, national, and international.

Economic Mission: To operate the company on a sound financial basis of profitable growth, increasing value for our shareholders, and creating career opportunities and financial rewards for our employees.

Underlying the mission of Ben & Jerry's is the determination to seek new and creative ways of addressing all three parts while holding a deep respect for the individuals, inside and outside the company, and for the communities of which they are a part.

The company works to employ its Mission Statement in as many day to day business decisions as possible so that they company is profitable and the community can profit by the way Ben & Jerry's does business.

Ben & Jerry's give away 7.5 percent of its pre-tax earnings in three ways: the Ben & Jerry's Foundation; employee Community Action Teams at the company's five Vermont sites; and through corporate grants. The company supports projects which are models for social change -- projects which exhibit creative problem solving and hopefulness. The Foundation is managed by a nine- member employee board and considers proposals relating to children and families, disadvantaged groups, and the environment.

The company offers paid disability leave at 100 percent of salary for six weeks, then 60 percent of salary through six months. In addition, Ben & Jerry's offers full and part-time employees two weeks paid leave for maternity, paternity and/or adoption. Employees have a choice between two health insurance plans; both include coverage for domestic partners. Ben & Jerry's offers fully paid coverage for preventative care, such as mammography, prostate screening and immunization for children. Another benefit recently introduced is a Work Family program, offering resources to address issues such as parenting, elder care, etc. The most famous employee benefits are three free pints of ice cream per day and, of course, health club memberships.