B-Corp Certification Expands
31 October 2012 at 10:44 am
Global ice-cream chain Ben and Jerry’s has become the first wholly-owned subsidiary to gain a B Corp certification – a mechanism to publically declare its values-led practices.
Parent company Unilever purchased the American chain 12 years ago. At the time of the acquisition an independent board of directors was established who supported the cause for the company to gain B Corp certification.
“Becoming a Certified B Corp is an important step, not only because it re-affirms our deep commitment to values-led business practices, but also because it affirms how Ben & Jerry’s and Unilever work together to advance our social mission,” Ben & Jerry’s Board Chair Jeff Furman said.
Certified B Corporations are a new type of corporation that uses the power of business to solve social and environmental problems.
Ben & Jerry’s director of social mission Rob Michalak said that the B Corp community is made up of organisations that have high standards that they can use to improve their performance over time.
“We want to constantly challenge ourselves to be better,” he said.
In 2011, parent company Unilever self-assessed as a B+ organisation based on the Global Reporting Initiative's (GRI) G3 Sustainability Reporting Guidelines. In April this year they produced their inaugural Unilever Sustainable Living Plan Progress Report, outlining their performance against targets during 2011.
Co-founder of the certification organisation, B Lab, Jay Coen Gilbert said that meeting the standards to become a Certified B Corp shows that Ben & Jerry’s cares about verified and transparent performance.
To earn its B Corp certification, the company has made its full B Impact Assessment available here.
Highlights of the report are:
Governance: Has an independent Company Board that's empowered to protect and defend Ben & Jerry's Social Mission Priorities; Produces an annual audited Social and Environmental Assessment Report (SEAR) detailing its mission-related performance
Workers: The lowest paid hourly worker receives 46% above the living wage; Offers supplemental benefits to employees, including health & wellness program, counseling services, community garden, and free product
Community: Contributed >5,000 hours of community service; >40% of board and management are from underrepresented populations; 45% of COGS goes towards investing and supporting small scale suppliers through the Caring Dairy program; Donated >5% of profits to charity
Environment: 100% of U.S. pint containers made with FSC Certified paperboard; Monitors emissions and has specific emissions reduction targets; Monitors water usage and increased % of water recycled on-site bi-annually; Offset >50% of emissions with certified carbon offsets
Ben & Jerry’s was created in Vermont, United States and wholly-owned subsidiary of Unilever. According to the company it operates on a three-part Mission Statement based on product quality, economic reward and community commitment. Contributions made via the employee-led Ben & Jerry’s Foundation in 2011 totaled US$1.98 million.
The ice-cream chain is found in 26 countries around the world, including Australia.