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New Ben & Jerry’s CEO Sees Social Issues as Part of Business Model



Matthew McCarthy became the new CEO of Ben & Jerry’s last July after being the vice president of parent company division Unilever Foods North America. He wants to focus on more than just profits though and plans to continue his work of keeping Unilever on a path of corporate responsibility by helping to make sure the ice cream company he now heads does the same and goes even beyond what he was able to previously accomplish, Forbes reports.

The ice cream company’s founders have already made it a company known for activism, like its outspokenness on climate change and desire to run a sustainable business model after being acquired by Unilever. The new CEO said he wants the company to “double its social impact.”

Forbes detailed a few of the things he did while working as vice president for Unilever and how those could be clues as to what to expect from him moving forward with Ben & Jerry’s.

Forbes said that “in 2010, Hellman’s stated its commitment to using only certified cage-free eggs by 2020, at a time when only 2 percent of egg-laying hens were cage-free. As a best selling condiment brand that uses over 331 million eggs per year, this meant that this goal was made before there was an adequate volume of cage-free eggs available for production.”

McCarthy then went into more detail about the venture, saying they “committed to going cage-free with Hellman’s. We had no idea how the heck to do that,” adding that they still “worked with our suppliers to make a completely new supply chain to make that possible.” He eventually got to the goal of 100 percent cage-free egg usage and did so ahead of schedule.

Unilever also has something called Growing Roots, a snack which tries to help urban farming.

“We don’t talk about Growing Roots as a brand. We talk about it as an urban farming program,” McCarthy said. “We worked with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Building Healthy Communities initiative to help build six urban farms.”

There will likely be more social activism out of the company with McCarthy at the helm, with him going into more detail in a recent interview on CNBC.

“The idea there’s a choice to be made between being proactive, being activists as a business, and not is a bit of a false narrative.”

He said the move should come as no surprise because being socially active is “in the DNA of Ben & Jerry’s, and why I’m so excited to be part of the business.”

McCarthy said the company wants to try to make sure that it’s on the forefront of fighting for racial equality, including looking out for racial biases that people in the company may not be aware of and working through them before those biases wind up causing harm to someone. There will be support for the Black Lives Matter movement and environmental causes, like combating climate change.

By: Anne Turkel

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