Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Ben & Jerry's Puts a Cherry on Top of Profit-Making

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Ben & Jerry's Puts a Cherry on Top of Profit-Making

Article excerpt

Is Ben & Jerry's ice cream a dessert with a social conscience? Or is the company using good deeds as a sophisticated capitalist technique to maximize profits?

Yes, Ben and Jerry say, it is.

Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, founders of the Ben & Jerry's Homemade Inc., talked in St. Louis Wednesday to a meeting of 4,000 personnel and human relations managers, arguing that decent business practices are good business practices, even when they come in a pint package bearing the words "Cherry Garcia."

Cohen, a CEO in a ragged T-shirt and matching ragged beard, says "business has now become the most powerful force in the world," displacing government and religion. "There is a spiritual aspect to business."

Sometimes Cohen grows so spiritual that it is difficult to describe precisely what he is saying. He urges "paradigm shifts" in the way business operates, and suggests listeners adopt an "integrated, holistic, synergystic, unified" method of human relations.

But if you have ever sent $5 to Greenpeace, recycled things or believed the world arms race is evil, you have probably tasted Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough and heard Ben & Jerry's sermon about peace, love and doing good to do well.

Cohen was happy to recite the story again to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) convention, which he persistently referred to as "shrumland" and a "shrumfest."

"When we recycle our cardboard, we make money," he said. "When we change to energy-efficient motors and lights, we make more money."

Ben & Jerry's locates its plants in areas of high unemployment. It supports efforts to save the Brazilian rain forest. It created a blueberry ice cream so it could buy blueberries exclusively from a tribe of Maine Indians and help support their economy. It quit selling a hand-made brownie-and-ice-cream sandwich because its workers' hands were developing repetitive strain injuries. …

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