Brenda Horton with Ben Cohen & Jerry Greenfield of Ben & Jerry's Ice-cream in San Francisco.

Brenda Horton with Ben Cohen & Jerry Greenfield of Ben & Jerry’s Ice-cream in San Francisco.

Incorporating Social Activism into Business

While at a fundraiser in San Francisco last week sponsored by Ben and Jerry’s Ice-cream company, I had the good fortune of meeting Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, founders of Ben & Jerry’s. The growth and success of their small business over the last 32 years is quite extraordinary. What makes their story exceptional and inspiring is how they have cultivated a company culture of fun, transparency, and social activism while growing their business. It seems they were way ahead of their time as much of the business world today is struggling to understand how to implement transparency and activism into their own business model.

In the social & environmental assessment report in 2008 from Ben & Jerry’s CEO, (Chief Euphoria Officer) Walt Freese, he states the following:

1. Use our company to further the cause of Peace and Justice.

2. Harmonize our global supply chain and ensure its alignment with our company values.

3. Take the lead promoting global sustainable dairy practices.

The report also has a section called, 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.”

Here is a link to the entire content on their social and environmental report.  This BOLD report, which they proudly display on their website, caused me take great pause in how any business would go about incorporating something similar into their own strategic and/or business plan.

We are now entering the second half of the year.  And here at Hware, we are preparing for our own upcoming two-day strategic and business planning retreat. We will be looking at our financial projections, marketing campaigns, sales forecasts, product development, etc. We will be using our own business planning methodology called Envision Plan Act to help guide us through the two day meeting. Ben and Jerry’s company model has given me much to ponder as we reassess our business model, redesign our website and update our content.

What about you? Have you found a company that inspires you to grow your small business in a more creative and daring way?  Who inspires you? What inspires you? Please share your comments below.

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