Ben Jerry's Double Dip: How to Run a Values Led Business and Make Money Too by Jerry GreenfieldBen Jerry's Double Dip: How to Run a Values Led Business and Make Money Too by Jerry Greenfield

Ben Jerry's Double Dip: How to Run a Values Led Business and Make Money Too

byJerry Greenfield, Ben Cohen

Paperback | May 13, 1998

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Ben & Jerry's Homemade, Inc., has done more than win the tastebuds of America -- it has earned the admiration of Wall Street and established a model for business owners and employees eager to earn profits without compromising their principles. In Ben & Jerry's Double-Dip, Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield offer the ultimate insider's guide to creating a values-led business that makes money while benefiting the entire community. Using examples from their own company as well as a host of others, these renowned innovators reveal:
  • How your commitment to worthy social causes will result in unprecedented customer and employee loyalty -- and increased profit
  • Practical advice on everything -- from hiring employees to choosing suppliers
  • Nuts-and-bolts information on values-led finance, retailing, and human resources
    Ben & Jerry's Double-Dip is essential reading for anyone who owns, works for, invests in, or shops at a socially responsible business.
Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, cofounders of Ben & Jerry's Homemade, Inc., opened their first ice cream shop in Burlington, Vermont, in 1978. Cohen is chairperson and Greenfield is vice-chairperson of the board of Ben & Jerry's Homemade, Inc. They live in Vermont.
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Title:Ben Jerry's Double Dip: How to Run a Values Led Business and Make Money TooFormat:PaperbackDimensions:304 pages, 9.25 × 6.12 × 1 inPublished:May 13, 1998Publisher:Simon & Schuster

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0684838559

ISBN - 13:9780684838557

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Read from the Book

From Chapter 1 Our Points (and We Do Have Them) Are... In the chapters that follow we'll tell stories and share tips based on what we've learned from building Ben & Jerry's into what it is today. But before we get into specifics, we'll lay out the foundation here: the five main points we hope you'll take away from reading the book. 1. Business is the most powerful force in society. Therefore business has a responsibility for the welfare of society as a whole. In 1988, we were surprised and delighted to be named U.S. Small Business Persons of the Year. When President Reagan presented us with the award he repeated the much-quoted phrase "The business of America is business." Maybe that used to be the case. But now that business has become the most powerful influence in society, we believe business has to accept responsibility for the welfare of that society and the people in it. Or, as we'd say, "The business of business is America." If we go back in time and look at societal structures around the world, we see that religion was originally the most powerful entity. Then power shifted, and nation-states became the institutions of greatest power. Today the most powerful force is business. This is a very new phenomenon, occurring only within our own lifetime. You can see this reality echoed in major cities around the world: the oldest big, ornate building is a religious institution. The second-oldest big, ornate building is a governmental institution. And today, the biggest, most ornate buildings being built are commercial. In order to maximize its social responsibility, a company needs to put its social mission right up front. Values are either a forethought or an afterthought. There's no middle ground. In order to get values in the right place -- in order to maintain the balance between your social mission and your financial mission -- they have to start out in first place. Understanding what it means to be a values-driven company has been an ongoing process at Ben & Jerry's. When the two of us started scooping ice cream in an abandoned gas station, we hadn't given much thought to business, let alone its role in society. We envisioned ourselves having a homemade-ice cream parlor that we'd run for two or three years until we moved on to something else. Calling our business Ben & Jerry's, giving away ice cream, holding free movie festivals, doing things that were community related were just honest, true expressions of ourselves. Later, when we decided not to sell the business, we consciously undertook an experiment: to find ways for a corporation to impact society positively. We dedicated ourselves to the creation and demonstration of a new corporate concept, of linked prosperity. The company developed a three-part mission statement that reflected our commitment to this conviction: PRODUCT MISSION To make, distribute, and sell the finest quality product. SOCIAL MISSION To operate the company in a way that actively recognizes the central role that business plays in society, by initiating innovative ways to improve the quality of life of the local, national, and international communities. ECONOMIC MISSION To operate the company on a sound fiscal basis of profitable growth. Business is the strongest influence in our society. It influences elections through campaign contributions; it influences legislation through lobbying; it influences the media through ownership; and it influences our everyday interactions as consumers and employees. All of this is done in the narrow self-interest of business, without much concern for the welfare of society as a whole. And that is the major change. The purpose of the first two most powerful forces, religion and government, was to promote the general welfare. But promoting the general welfare has never been a part of business's reason for being. If the most powerful force in society does not look out for the general welfare, society will be destroyed. For us there isn't any road map to follow. We've had to make it up as we've gone along. We get a lot of support and good ideas from our friends in like-minded businesses, but each of us has to figure out how to apply the principles we share to his or her individual company. Even now, one of the biggest issues at Ben & Jerry's is that we haven't been able to articulate our objectives specifically enough so that everyone in the company is fully aligned. As a friend of the company's once said, "Everyone's heading west, but 'west' is a pretty broad description." But there's reason for optimism; just this past year, our board developed a much clearer vision of Ben & Jerry's social mission. We have a progressive, nonpartisan social agenda. We seek peace by supporting nonviolent ways to resolve conflict. We will look for ways to create economic opportunities for the disenfranchised. We are committed to practicing caring capitalism. We seek to minimize our negative impact on the environment. We support family farming and sustainable methods of food production. We're constantly in a process of clarification, of improving what we're doing. But we do agree on one central point: the impact of business is so far-ranging and all-encompassing that we can't shirk responsibility for societal concerns. Incorporating that responsibility into a business can make it a powerful, positive force for social change. 2. A values-led business can be a highly profitable business. Business people have traditionally said that business can't concern itself with the needs of the broader society, because it won't be able to survive. Our experience proves that's just not true. So do the experiences of other companies. There are plenty of companies that are thriving today -- Patagonia, Inc. (clothing); Odwalla, Inc. (juice); Tom's of Maine, Inc. (personal care products); the Body Shop International Plc. (body care products); Blue Fish Clothing; Frontier Cooperative Herbs; Working Assets Funding Service (credit cards and long distance phone service); Rhino Entertainment (music); Tommy Boy (music); Whole Foods Market; Just Desserts; Stonyfield Farm Yogurt; Aveda Corporation (personal care products); and many more. Ask their customers why they buy from those companies, and you'll probably hear as much about how much they love the company as you hear about how much they love its products. That's a reversal of the usual situation -- most consumers are buying from companies in spite of their negative feelings about corporations in general. In our early days in business, the two of us used to be a hot ticket on the Rotary Club circuit in Vermont. They needed a speaker to lull their members to sleep as they digested their rubber chicken. We'd give our talk, they'd fall asleep. Then at the end someone would wake up, raise his hand, and say, "All this stuff you're doing for the community -- you're just doing it because it's good for business, aren't you?" And we'd say, "No. It's altruism." When we get that question now, we say, "Altruism is the old answer. The new answer is, it is good for business. If you want to be more profitable, why don't you try it too?" 3. People can influence business -- as investors, as employees, as consumers. Business needs capital, so it needs people to invest in it. It needs labor, so it needs people to work at it. And it needs customers to purchase its products or services. So, people can greatly influence how business conducts itself by choosing which companies to invest in, to work for, and to support with their purchasing power. Today over $1 trillion -- almost 10 percent of all managed market investments in the United States -- are invested in socially responsible investments. According to Good Money by Dr. Ritchie P. Lowry: The socially responsible investment movement is growing exponentially in numbers of individual and institutional investors participating, in the amount of money invested, and most importantly in the movement's ability to persuade corporations to develop a sense of social responsibility in the conduct of their businesses. As companies discover that their stock price is influenced by how much they integrate societal benefits into their business behavior, they'll be more and more motivated to do so. Similarly, companies are discovering that they're better able to attract and keep the best employees if they factor social concerns into how they run their businesses. Employees are more motivated -- and productivity is higher -- when they bring their hearts and souls as well as their bodies and minds to work with them. Today most people don't make those conscious choices. They don't consider a company's social values when they choose a company to interact with. But socially responsible business and socially responsible investing are growing at a tremendous rate. At the annual awards ceremony hosted by the Council on Economic Priorities, small, medium sized, and large companies are honored for their environmental, social, and employee practices. There are surveys done by firms like Cone Communications in Boston and Roper Research in New York proving that more and more consumers are starting to factor in these concerns. Here are some findings from a 1994 survey conducted jointly by Cone and Roper: Seventy-eight percent of adults said they were more likely to buy a product associated with a cause they care about. Sixty-six percent of adults said they'd likely to switch brands to support a cause they care about. Fifty-four percent of adults said they'd pay more for a product that supports a cause they care about. After price and quality, 33 percent of Americans consider a company's responsible business practices the most important factor in deciding whether or not to buy a brand. The number of people who want to "vote with their wallets" is growing toward critical mass. There's a paradigm shift occurring. As one indicator, the Council on Economic Priorities' handbook Shopping for a Better World, which rates the products available in supermarkets based on their degree of social responsibility, has sold over 1 million copies since 1991. For employees to influence the company they work for is a little trickier, especially if they work for big corporations. When we give talks, people always ask us, "How do you influence the company you work for if it's Procter & Gamble, DuPont, or Exxon?" Certainly it's harder to make sweeping changes at a huge corporation than it is to make them at a small company. But sometimes it's actually easier to make small changes at a big corporation, because there's more distributed authority and autonomy. Of course, a small change in a big company -- switching to chlorine-free paper, for example -- usually has a greater impact than a big change in a small company. More and more corporations are realizing that if they're going to attract the best employees and motivate the ones they have, they need to start dealing with this issue of values and social concerns. Just as consumers are loyal to companies whose values they share, when employees feel they're working for some higher purpose, as opposed to just trying to maximize the profits of the company they work for, they're more productive. 4. Ben and Jerry are two regular guys who succeeded in large part because we were true to ourselves. We didn't plan on becoming captains of industry. And we still aren't. We approached our business in a nonbusinesslike fashion. We made flavors we liked to eat and eschewed traditional market research, mostly because we couldn't afford it. We viewed ourselves pretty much the way the average person on the street views herself or himself, except there are a lot more people viewing us on the lids of our ice cream containers. Ben: And the average person on the street hates corporations. Jerry: I think "hate" is too strong a word. Ben: C'mon, Jer. Read the polls. Get the data! Jerry: People think business acts only in its own self-interest without concern for anyone else. Ben: Right. Jerry: They think businesses will do anything they can, break any laws they can, to make as much money as they can. Ben: Right. Jerry: But people don't hate it. They just look at it as business as usual. Ben: Okay, okay. They do not hold business in very high regard. Jerry: Correct. Somehow the two of us ended up being the guys on the lid of this company. So we approach our business as a person on the street would approach it if he'd been feeling taken advantage of by big corporations and all of a sudden he was plopped in the director's chair, and he took his feelings and actualized them. If he said, "Here are all the ways that business doesn't act real nice to folks like me. Well, I'm running the show now, so why don't I run it in a way that's fair to people?" Of course it's not possible to please everyone all the time. And even when we think we're being fair, our intentions aren't always perceived that way. In the past and in the present we've had disputes with organizations and people who feel Ben & Jerry's hasn't treated them fairly: for example, Reverend Carter of La Soule, who feels we didn't live up to our commitments to him, Amy Miller of Amy's Ice Creams in Texas who believes we tried to make it difficult for her to distribute her ice cream, and some shareholders who felt we didn't disclose relevant information about construction of one of our plants. A values-led business is still a business. You can't always please everyone. You have to make rules, make tough decisions, prioritize the things you want to do. No matter what you do, some people are always going to feel you're not treating them fairly. But if you're thrown into the chair you can choose to be the same person you always were. You don't need to put on a suit and tie if you'd rather wear a T-shirt. You don't need to hire an ad agency if you want to tell your own truth. You can choose not to believe the so-called conventional rules of business, to trust your own reasoning and beliefs instead of -- or along with -- soliciting advice from lawyers, accountants, and other business people. You can still lead with your values, even when the experts tell you what they told us so many times: "Nobody's ever done that before. You'd be crazy to do that. It won't work." But just because something's never been done doesn't mean it never can be. That's why we're writing this book: to show that you can run a profitable company by doing things in a way that's true to you and to your values, as long as you also do a good job of paying attention to the business basics of manufacturing, customer service, human resources, sales, marketing, and finance. 5. There's a spiritual aspect to business. Most people would agree that there's a spiritual part of our lives as individuals. Yet when a group of individuals gets together in the form of a business, all of a sudden they throw out that whole idea. We all know as individuals that spirituality -- the exchange of love, energy, kindness, caring -- exists. Just because the idea that the good you do comes back to you is written in the Bible and not in some business textbook doesn't make it any less valid. We're all interconnected. As we give we receive. As we help others we are helped in return. As your business supports the community, the community will support your business. Most companies try to conduct their businesses in a spiritual vacuum. But it's absurd to think that just because spiritual connection isn't tangible or quantitatively measurable, it doesn't exist. When people are aware that there's a company that's trying to help their community, they want to support that company. They want to buy goods and services from that company. They want to be associated with that company. And that's what values-led business is all about. But the reality is, we'll never actualize our spiritual concerns until we integrate them into business, which is where we spend most of our time, where our energy as human beings is organized in a synergistic way, and where the resources exist that allow us to be at our most powerful. In a way, a values-led business is a self-marketing business. Just by the act of integrating a concern for the community into your day-to-day business activities -- buying your brownies from a bakery run by a religious institution that puts economically disenfranchised people to work, and your coffee from a worker co-op that returns the proceeds to the farmers, for example -- you're creating a spiritual connection between you and your customers. And that moves them to support you. Some cynics ask, "How can you claim you have a spiritual connection to your customers? How do you know whether they buy your ice cream because they like the flavors or because they have a spiritual connection with you?" Spiritual connection is impossible to quantify. All we know is that when we meet people on the street, when people speak in focus groups, and when consumers write us letters about why they like Ben & Jerry's -- and about fourteen thousand people a year do write us letters -- they talk as much about what the business does as they do about the product we sell. They talk about a sense of meaning and interrelatedness and support for our efforts to help disenfranchised people. This is a new role for business to play. A role it's not accustomed to and wasn't created for. That's why business has to re-create itself. Because if the most powerful force doesn't take responsibility for society as a whole, society -- and eventually the business itself, which is dependent on that society -- will be destroyed. Our country has now become the most unequal society in the industrialized world. Twenty years ago, the richest 1 percent of people in America owned 19 percent of the wealth. In 1992 (the most recent figures available) the richest 1 percent of Americans owned 37 percent -- twice as much -- of the nation's wealth. And the bottom 90 percent of the population owned just 28 percent of the nation's riches. If this trend continues we will not long endure. There's so little in society these days that people can feel a part of or believe in. Politicians -- forget it. Institutional religion isn't as relevant to most people as it used to be. School -- not much. Families are in disarray. Business -- it controls society and doesn't care about people. In the world in which we live, the spiritual has been taken out of our day-to-day life. So we go to work during the week and focus solely on earning our paychecks and maximizing profit. Then on the weekends we go to church or temple and devote what's left of our energy to the spiritual part of our lives. But the reality is that we will never actualize those spiritual concerns until we integrate them into business. In the midst of this desolate landscape, when people find a company that cares, they want to connect with it. Doing business with that company is something they can feel good about. This Book's for You When we first decided to open an ice cream parlor, our goals were pretty modest. With this book we admit to having greater aspirations. We're hoping that reading it will free up a lot of people to finally do what their hearts and souls have been aching to do -- integrate social values into their daily business activities. If you're a businessperson reading this book, we hope to demonstrate that there's an alternative to the status quo. We hope you'll see that it's possible to run a business in a way that proactively supports society, and that as you integrate your values more and more, you'll be just as profitable, if not more so. If you're a shareholder, an employee, or a customer, we hope to convince you to bring those values to your interactions with business. We hope to help you become aware that there's a different, more caring way for business to be -- and as employees, customers, and shareholders, to demand that business be that way. Remember in 1988, when environmental groups exposed the fact that dolphins were getting trapped and killed in tuna-fishing nets? A lot of folks stopped buying tuna. Consequently the tuna companies changed the way they caught their fish, so they could print "dolphin safe" on the labels and get their customers back. According to the New York Times, Heinz decided that changing their fishing methods and raising prices would cost the company less than the "social disapproval" they would face if they continued. In other words, the ethical choice had become the profitable choice. The socially responsible business movement is in its early stages. It's at a critical point in its development. There's a lot of questioning going on -- some of it cynical, some well intentioned -- about where it's headed and whether it can actually work. The same thing happened in the early days of the environmental movement. The mainstream poohpoohed it. People called environmentalists "tree huggers" and "crazy hippies." Now there's curb side recycling in most major American cities. There's a steady stream of environmental legislation moving through Congress. Environmental considerations are a part of the normal planning process today. Many corporations have environmental coordinators on staff. Most Americans know there's no "away" to throw things. Concern for the environment doesn't seem so crazy anymore. That's the way social movements change what the norms are. Our guess is, it'll be that way with values-led business. It won't be long before the idea that business should be a positive force in society won't seem crazy either. We know the world won't change overnight. What we're talking about here is taking small steps. The important thing is to take them in the right direction -- and in the company of a lot of good people. Copyright© 1997 by Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield Check out the flavorful Ben & Jerry's site.

From Our Editors

Published in paperback for the 20th anniversary of Ben & Jerry's Homemade, Inc.--the business philosophy of a company that has won the taste buds of America as well as earned the admiration of Wall Street

Editorial Reviews

Rosabeth Moss Kanter author of World Class: Thriving Locally in the Global Economy Double-Dip serves up a charming and wise insider account of how the ice cream kings built a premium brand and a role model, values-driven company. Leaders in businesses of all sizes will find abundant inspiration and dozens of practical suggestions for creating wealth and well-being.