A Double Bottom Line: Ben & Jerry's

A Double Bottom Line: Ben & Jerry's

  • Case

Through the 1980s and 1990s, Ben & Jerry's grew as a company and remained committed to the social mission of its founders. In 2000, Ben and Jerry's announced that it was being acquired by Unilever, a large multinational corporation. The new owners offered assurance that Ben and Jerry's would remain committed to its social mission and that it would operate as an autonomous unit of Unilever. However, some observers have noted compromises with regard to the company's social values, even before the sale to Unilever, driven by the need to earn a profit. Some have offered the case as evidence that a traditional business corporation model is “inhospitable, if not outright hostile” to the pursuit of social goals. This understanding of the case is advanced by some who advocate the need for new corporate forms, such as the benefit corporation, that would permit corporate directors to weigh social goals equally with profits to shareholders.

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