Ben & Jerry to share business model and some ice cream at UMW
BY LINDLEY ESTES
Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield will speak at the University of Mary Washington’s Fredericksburg Forum Saturday and yes, they’re bringing ice cream.
The co-founders of Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Inc., will lead, “An Evening of Entrepreneurial Spirit, Social Responsibility and Radical Business Philosophy,” at 8 p.m. in George Washington Hall, Dodd Auditorium.
Cohen and Greenfield began Ben & Jerry’s ice cream in Burlington, Vt., in 1978. The company has since evolved into an international, multimillion dollar enterprise.
Greenfield said their lecture on theory and practice of socially responsible business will “be one that’s never been seen before.”
“Ben and I want to share our experience of starting and growing a business committed to values as much as making money,” Greenfield said. “A caring business can be just as successful.”
He said that poverty and economic issues are especially important to them.
Their company is currently transitioning into using only fair-trade ingredients in the ice cream. They also use products created by socially responsible businesses. For example, the bakery that makes their brownies employs individuals who are homeless or have other economic problems.
For Cohen, one of the largest economic issues facing America is how much money is being poured into politics.
The company supports the Stamp Stampede, a movement aiming to get people to stamp messages on currency in support of passing a constitutional amendment to get money out of politics.
“I think that a big problem is that many multinational companies and the super-rich are giving donations to politicians that are actually bribes into order to get those politicians to pass legislation for their own self-interest,” Cohen said. This self-interest includes maximizing profits and moving jobs offshore.
“When money rules, the government of the country functions in a way to benefit big money,” he said.
Cohen said he hopes to incorporate getting money out of politics into the lecture and sell stamps at the UMW event.
Out of all the organizations supporting this movement, Cohen said he was surprised to see that Ben & Jerry’s is the only for-profit company involved.
He said their commitment to social issues is successful because it is at the core of their business.
“Other companies haven’t really tried that hard,” he said.
Their company’s commitment to social issues was recently affirmed when it became the first wholly owned subsidiary to gain B Corp Certification. B Corps, according to their website, are a new type of corporation that use the power of business to solve social and environmental problems.
Coincidentally, their lecture coincides with the Fredericksburg Forum’s being certified as a “Virginia Green” event. Virginia Green is the commonwealth’s initiative to encourage environmentally responsible practices throughout the tourism industry.
The event will employ ‘green’ practices of recycling, waste reduction, energy and water conservation.
Lindley Estes: 540/735-1976
WANT TO GO?
WHAT: Ben & Jerry: “An Evening of Entrepreneurial Spirit, Social Responsibility and Radical Business Philosophy”
WHEN: Saturday, 8 p.m.
WHERE: Dodd Auditorium, George Washington Hall at the University of Mary Washington
TICKETS: $35, available at the door, over the phone at 540/654-1065 or through the forum website: umw.edu/forum
INFO: For more information about Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream or the Stamp Stampede, go online to: benjerry.com or stampstam