Corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs are growing in popularity worldwide. These initiatives are incorporated into companies’ main priorities, giving them the opportunity to make a positive impact on the environment and world. A Sustainable Brands study showed 84 percent of consumers globally seek out responsible products whenever possible, meaning that consumers are becoming increasingly aware of how the companies they like are using their influence. Companies with a strong corporate responsibility program build trust and brand loyalty with their consumers, in turn driving sales in the short and long term. These stats highlight the importance of developing and maintaining a strong social responsibility program within your company.
One company that has a history of success in corporate social responsibility is everyone’s favorite sweet treat: Ben & Jerry’s. In addition to being a go-to brand of ice cream, Ben & Jerry’s also houses the Ben & Jerry’s Foundation, which gives $1.8 million in grants annually to organizations across the United States. Over the past 30 years the Ben & Jerry’s Foundation has honed its focus on being a philanthropic, socially conscious organization. Supporting grassroots initiatives nationwide, Ben & Jerry’s has offered more to the AmeriCone Dream than most people know. Here are the pillars Ben & Jerry’s has used to build its successful CSR program.
In 1985, the Ben & Jerry’s Foundation was formed with the goal of supporting grassroots organizations and initiatives. From the start, the Board of Directors dedicated 7.5 percent of Ben & Jerry’s annual pre-tax profits to the foundation. The social purpose of Ben & Jerry’s encompasses sustainability, social responsibility and philanthropy. “We feel that that is really the role of business; there is no excuse not to engage in those social issues,” said Jeff Furman, trustee of the Ben & Jerry’s Foundation. “There’s no doubt that the social mission is the key to how we differentiate our company.”
Ben & Jerry’s developed a CSR program that aligns its company’s goals with social responsibility. Without publicizing every step of its initiative, Ben & Jerry’s established its social mission as a key part of the company. By focusing and investing in its social responsibility initiatives, Ben & Jerry’s publicity and support came organically.
Build it from the ground up
The Ben & Jerry’s foundation works to combat social justice issues with a boots-on-the-ground mentality, believing that true social change is generated from grassroots movements. The Ben & Jerry’s Foundation encourages Ben & Jerry’s employees to be as involved as they can. Ben & Jerry’s Foundation grantmaking teams are formed of 12-15 passionate Ben & Jerry’s employees stemming from multiple departments. Genuine advocacy for social justice reform shines through employees and members of the Ben & Jerry’s team.
Be in it for the long haul
Preceding the founding of the Ben & Jerry’s Foundation in 1985, social consciousness was always a pillar of Ben & Jerry’s. Ben & Jerry’s founders, Ben & Jerry, cared about the community, their neighbors and their customers. This laid the groundwork for the company’s social responsibility stronghold.
Thirty years of work combating social injustices in Vermont, the United States and worldwide were recognized in 2014 when Ben & Jerry’s won the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy’s Corporate Grantmaker award. The longevity of Ben & Jerry’s social responsibility initiatives established it as more than a PR stunt and as a dedication to truly making a difference.
Ben & Jerry’s has fought against income equality, promoted voting rights, supported anti-racism campaigns and encouraged integration of refugees in Europe. Continued pushback against social issues position Ben & Jerry’s social responsibility program as an ongoing success story. Sprinkle some of these Ben & Jerry’s techniques on your CSR program today!