Corporate Social Responsibility

Green for Profit or Green for the Environment.

When considering retail brands that demonstrate social and ethically responsible practices, one brand stands out to me: Ben & Jerry’s, the ice cream company. Ben & Jerry’s has a progressive social mission that seeks to meet human needs and eliminate injustices in their local, national, and international communities. They integrate their social mission into their day-to-day business activities (Ben & Jerry’s, 2023). Some specific examples of Ben & Jerry’s progressive social mission include many facets, including climate justice, caring capitalism, LGBTQ+ rights, and Voting Rights (Ben & Jerry’s, 2023).

Caring Capitalism

Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield remain local Vermont and global heroes for their outstanding community activism and have inspired many businesses striving to become more socially responsible over the past four decades. Ben Cohen coined the term “Caring Capitalism” back in the early ’80s when CSR (corporate social responsibility) was still on the rise (Alyssa, 2020). Not counting the hundreds of thousands of dollars they’ve given to progressive causes over the years, including racial justice, climate change, peacebuilding, and more, the Ben & Jerry’s Foundation has donated 7.5% of its yearly pre-tax profits to community organizations across the country since 1985 (Alyssa, 2020).

Climate Justice

Ben & Jerry’s has been a vocal advocate for climate justice for many years. They have called for a ban on fracking, supported the Paris Agreement, and worked to reduce their own carbon footprint (Ben & Jerry’s, 2023). In 2023, they announced they would make all of their ice cream in the United States with 100% renewable energy (Ben & Jerry’s, 2023). Along these lines, they have also long supported LGBTQ+ rights. They were among the first major corporations to endorse same-sex marriage and have continued to speak out against discrimination against LGBTQ+ people (Ben & Jerry’s, 2023). In 2019, they created a new flavor of ice cream called “Peanut Butter Half-Baked Non-Dairy” in honor of the Supreme Court’s decision to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide (Ben & Jerry’s, 2023).

Voter Equality

One way that Ben & Jerry’s is committed to being socially responsible is in their work toward protecting voting rights. They have spoken out against voter suppression laws and worked to register voters and get out the vote (Ben & Jerry’s Rebrands Change Is Brewing Ice Cream Flavor to Encourage Black Voter Turnout, 2022). In 2020, they launched a campaign called “Democracy Asserted” to support voter protection efforts (Ben & Jerry’s, 2023). Additionally, in 2022 they created the Black Voters Matter Fund to increase voter turnout in Black communities (Ben & Jerry’s, 2023).

“The ultimate goal is for us to really be able to build a nation of democracy that we both desire and that we deserve,”

LaTosha Brown, a co-founder of the Black Voters Matter Fund (Ben & Jerry’s, 2023).

Unethical Practices

While their positive contributions to society are significant, the ice cream giant has also received negative publicity for allegedly using underage migrant laborers for dangerous and grueling factory jobs (Tress, 2023). Specifically, minors were working more than part-time in some of the agricultural jobs directly associated with the production of products (Tress, 2023). The claims led to a class action lawsuit in which Ben & Jerry’s remains unresolved (Fox News, 2023). Because of their stance on rights and equality, this negative attention led to a boycott of their ice cream, and as a result, they lost points in the public eye. A representative of Ben & Jerry’s is quoted as saying:

“We are deeply concerned by the claims made in this story and do not tolerate any suppliers who are not adhering to the law. Let us be extremely clear: Ben & Jerry’s stands in strong opposition to child labor,”

Press Representative, Ben & Jerry’s (Ben & Jerry’s, 2023).

Unfortunately, this isn’t the only instance of negative media attention as they’ve also been accused of building their Vermont headquarters on stolen Indigenous land, misleading consumers on animal welfare standards, and questionable tax conduct (How Ethical Is Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Inc.? | Ethical Consumer, 2022). There are always two sides to a coin; this ice cream giant is no exception.

To Ice Cream or Not to Ice Cream – that is the question.

In my opinion, I believe that Ben & Jerry’s focuses on doing the right thing simply because it is the right thing to do. So, they are green for the environment and for the greater good. Ben & Jerry’s progressive social mission continues to evolve, and they show their honest commitment to using their business to make a difference in the world and always looking for new ways to support social justice causes. Plus, their product is delicious – especially Chunky Monkey. What’s your favorite flavor?


Alyssa. (2020). How Ben and Jerry’s incorporates social responsibility through conscious capitalism. ChuckJoe.

Ben & Jerry’s. (2023). Issues we care about. Retrieved August 12, 2023, from

Fox News. (2023, March 1). Ben & Jerry’s suppliers using child labor despite “progressive” values. New York Post.

How ethical is Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Inc.? | Ethical Consumer. (2022, August 31). Ethical Consumer.

Tress, L. (2023, March 21). ‘Hypocritical’: Ben & Jerry’s sued over child labor, after attempted Israel boycott. Times of Israel. Retrieved August 12, 2023, from’s%20has,key%20part%20of%20its%20branding.

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  • Post last modified:August 12, 2023
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