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August 24, 2015

As Arm of Unilever, Ben & Jerry's Still Boosts Social Impact

Fifteen years after it was purchased by global consumer-goods conglomerate Unilever, ice cream maker Ben & Jerry's has maintained and even strengthened its commitment to sustainability and social causes, writes The New York Times.

The 2000 takeover triggered concerns that the Vermont-based ice creamery's tenets of social responsibility — including a commitment to using fair trade, organic, and locally sourced ingredients and espousal of progressive political causes — would be swamped by its new parent's bottom-line concerns. Instead, Ben & Jerry's is "doing more now on the social mission than we ever have," said Rob Michalak, who heads the firm's cause-related efforts.

Since the merger, Unilever - which granted Ben & Jerry's significant autonomy in the takeover agreement - has stepped up its own commitment to social and environmental causes, even flirting with becoming a B corporation, according to the Times' Revalued column, which explores progressive values in the business world.