Ben & Jerry’s

Vermont
Food Beverage and Tobacco

Corprate Bias Ratings

Risk Level:

Rating - Danger
High Risk

Ben & Jerry's is a self-described activist company that regularly uses its corporate resources to promote legislative agendas such as cannabis legalization, increased abortion access, restrictions on free speech, and more. Its attempt to pull its business out of Israel prompted its parent, Unilever, to step in and sell Ben & Jerry's Israeli branch. By complying with Human Rights Campaign's controversial demands, Ben & Jerry's increases the risk of dividing employees, alienating customers and harming shareholders. The company covers transgender-related medical costs for its employees and their children and provides specific sexual orientation and gender identity-based benefits. It also uses sex and gender ideology criteria in employee recruitment, vendor selection, marketing, and philanthropic support. Ben & Jerry's forces employees to undergo multiple ideological trainings and uses its reputation, corporate funds, and political influence to support controversial sex and gender ideologies, organizations, and legislation. Ben & Jerry's has donated to ideological groups such as Color of Change. The company is committed to carbon neutrality by 2040 and provides a benefits package for employees which covers travel/lodging costs for an abortion. Ben & Jerry's opposed various state and local legislation intended to protect parental rights, girls’ sports, bathroom facilities, and gendered spaces. The company is a member of the "Don't Ban Equality" business coalition. For these reasons, Ben & Jerry's receives a High Risk rating.

Criteria
Risk Level
Rationale
Corporate Weaponization
Criteria

Has denied service to customers, suppliers, or vendors due to their political views or religious beliefs OR corporately boycotts, divests, or sanctions regions, people groups, or industries.

Risk Level
Rationale

Ben & Jerry’s received a score of 100 on the 2023 Corporate Equality Index (CEI) from the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), a political stakeholder group. The company recruits employees based on sexual identity issues. The company discriminates against vendors that do not promote divisive sex and gender policies, indicating it prioritizes sexual issues over merit (1)(2)(3). In July 2021, Ben & Jerry’s announced that it would end sales in the West Bank, which the company referred to as “Occupied Palestinian Territory” (4). Upon pushback from local subsidiary Ben & Jerry’s Israel, the company suddenly decided to end the franchise. When the ice cream chain’s parent company Unilever attempted damage control by preemptively selling off the Israeli franchise, Ben & Jerry’s immediately attempted to sue Unilever (5).

Criteria

Charitable giving (including employee matching programs) policies or practices discriminate against charitable organizations based on views or religious beliefs.

Risk Level
Rationale

Ben & Jerry’s HRC CEI rating indicates the company will not donate to non-religious charities unless they embrace controversial sexual identity policies (1)(2)(3).

Criteria

Employment policies fail to protect against discrimination based on political affiliation/views and/or religion.

Risk Level
Rationale

Ben & Jerry’s HRC 2023 CEI rating indicates the company forces employees to attend multiple, controversial trainings on gender identity, sexual orientation, transgender issues, and divisive racial ideology. The company provides gender transition guidelines for its employees and a specific benefits guide with a comprehensive explanation of transgender services funded by the company (1)(2)(3). Ben & Jerry’s does not provide viewpoint protections for its employees (4).

Corporate Governance and Public Policy
Criteria

Uses corporate reputation to support ideological causes and/or organizations hostile to freedom of expression.

Risk Level
Rationale

The company publicly opposes election security legislation (such as the Georgia voting bill), and the company cites the ACLU and Color of Change as “Friends in the Movement” (1). Ben & Jerry’s has been a consistent supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement and has publicly supported the Defund the Police slogan and racial reparation policy (2)(3). Ben & Jerry’s posted a defense of the Equality Act on its site entitled “The Equality Act and Why We Need It” (4). Ben & Jerry’s has tweeted that the justice system “can’t be reformed” and “must be dismantled” (5). In 2020, Ben & Jerry’s joined the “#StopHateForProfit” boycott of Facebook intended to force the social media site to enact stricter speech rules (6). Ben & Jerry’s signed onto the Human Rights Campaign’s Business Coalition on Anti-LGBTQ Legislation (7) The company opposed the Florida Parental Rights in Education Act, which would prohibit teaching gender identity and sexual orientation to kids in K-3rd grade (8). Ben & Jerry’s also posted a five-part pro-choice commentary on Twitter when the Supreme Court decision ending Roe v. Wade was leaked in 2022 (9). The company had published similar commentaries regarding state-level abortion laws previously (10). In 2022, Ben & Jerry’s led a campaign in favor of cannabis reform (11). The company is a Ceres Network Member, committed to net zero carbon emissions by 2040 (12)(13). Ben & Jerry’s posted a Tweet statement on July 4, 2023 stating that “it’s high time we recognize that the US exists on stolen Indigenous land and commit to returning it” and “The faces on Mount Rushmore are the faces of men who actively worked to destroy Indigenous cultures and ways of life, to deny Indigenous people their basic rights” (14)(15). The company opposed various state and local legislation intended to protect parental rights, girls’ sports, bathroom facilities, and gendered spaces (16). Ben & Jerry‘s HRC 2023 CEI rating indicates the company agrees to allow a controversial stakeholder group focused on sexual identity issues to dictate marketing or advertising strategy (17)(18)(19). By doing so, the company risks dividing employees, alienating customers and harming shareholders. The company is a member of the “Don’t Ban Equality” business coalition, which advocates against any abortion restrictions because they are “bad for business” (20).

Criteria

Uses corporate funds to advance ideological causes, organizations, or policies hostile to freedom of expression.

Risk Level
Rationale

Ben & Jerry’s provides a benefits package for employees which covers travel/lodging costs for an abortion (1). In 2018, Ben & Jerry’s donated $25,000 to Color of Change (2).  Over a span of 14 months between 2018 and 2019, the company paid $1.4 million for Facebook ads advocating for criminal justice reform (3). In 2017, Ben & Jerry’s donated to the Anti-Defamation League and called upon others to do the same (4). Ben & Jerry’s HRC 2023 CEI rating indicates the company covers transgender related costs for its employees and their children, including paid short-term leave, puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, chest surgeries, genital surgeries, medical visits and lab monitoring, travel and lodging. Additionally, the company has pledged philanthropic support of at least one organization or event that promotes sex and gender ideology (5)(6)(7). By allowing a political stakeholder group to dictate operations, the company increases health care costs and risks dividing employees, alienating customers and harming shareholders.

Criteria

Uses corporate political contributions for ideological, non-business purposes.

Risk Level
Rationale

Ben & Jerry’s HRC 2023 CEI rating indicates the company publicly advocated for controversial sex and gender ideology through local, state or federal legislation or initiatives (1)(2)(3). By allowing a political stakeholder group to dictate operations, the company risks dividing employees, alienating customers and harming shareholders. Ben & Jerry’s does not operate a PAC or engage in lobbying at this time (4)(5)(6).

All links were last accessed and all information was updated on:
February 28, 2024

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