It’s good to see that Ben & Jerry’s still has balls. Big, schweddy balls.
This weekend, the board of directors of Ben & Jerry’s published a statement of solidarity with Occupy Wall Street, saying “The issues raised [by the protesters] are of fundamental importance to all of us,” and that they “support this call to action and are honored to join you in this call to take back our nation and democracy.”
With this statement, Ben & Jerry’s became the first large company to publicly step out in favor of the 99%. It’s not entirely surprising—the ice cream maker, which brings to mind tie-die t-shirts, The Band and older bearded men smoking weed, has been socially active since its inception in 1978, and has retained that as part of its image even after being bought by Unilever in 2000.
In their statement they said:
We, the Ben & Jerry’s Board of Directors, compelled by our personal convictions and our Company’s mission and values, wish to express our deepest admiration to all of you who have initiated the non-violent Occupy Wall Street Movement and to those around the country who have joined in solidarity. The issues raised are of fundamental importance to all of us. These include:
-The inequity that exists between classes in our country is simply immoral.
-We are in an unemployment crisis. Almost 14 million people are unemployed. Nearly 20% of African American men are unemployed. Over 25% of our nation’s youth are unemployed.
-Many workers who have jobs have to work 2 or 3 of them just to scrape by.
-Higher education is almost impossible to obtain without going deeply in debt.
-Corporations are permitted to spend unlimited resources to influence elections while stockpiling a trillion dollars rather than hiring people.
We know the media will either ignore you or frame the issue as to who may be getting pepper sprayed rather than addressing the despair and hardships borne by so many, or accurately conveying what this movement is about. All this goes on while corporate profits continue to soar and millionaires whine about paying a bit more in taxes. And we have not even mentioned the environment.
Many accused Ben & Jerry’s of selling out, and honestly, I don’t think their ice cream tastes as good as it did before they were bought by Unilever. But at the time they were bought, the company promised that “the current social mission of Ben & Jerry’s will be encouraged and well-funded, which will lead to improved performance in this area, and an opportunity has been offered for Ben & Jerry’s to contribute to Unilever’s social practices worldwide.” In supporting OWS, they appear to be following through with this.
It will be interesting to see if they offer further support down the line and in what form (free sundaes anyone?). We hope other companies will follow in support.
For the full statement and a list of Ben & Jerry’s lobbying efforts visit their website.