Ben and Jerry's: Where social responsibility is a slogan
Ben & Jerry's' decision to support the anti-Israel boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement, by discontinuing ice cream sales in the so-called occupied Palestinian territories, along with its sales practices, and its Doggie Desserts, conveys to me the impression that everything it has ever said about social responsibility is empty virtue-signaling, AKA "woke washing" lip service for the benefit of gullible "woke" consumers.
This is the problem with corporate directors and other employees who bring their personal politics under their organizational roofs. The Times of Israel reports, "Anuradha Mittal, who led a recent decision to end sales in 'Occupied Palestinian Territory,' also allegedly funneled funds to her own think tank, NY Post reports."
This is not the kind of attention a responsible corporate director should want to attract to herself or her organization, because the pro-Israel side does not need to confine itself to the BDS issue once Ben & Jerry's makes itself a party to the conflict in question. We recognize that people who do not have a dog in the BDS fight will not stop buying Ben & Jerry's (now Ben & Jihad's to some, with new brands such as "Second Mintifada" and "Jihadi Coffee Toffee") to support the only free nation in the Middle East.
They will stop buying it because of its poor value for the money and also the unhealthy nature of its Doggie Desserts.
It's all a part of its self-described "social responsibility," and Ben & Jerry's falls down on all counts.
Social responsibility includes a square deal for all organizational stakeholders in the form of fair prices and good value for customers, good wages for employees, and profits for investors. The sale of Ben & Jerry's labels along with a pint of ice cream for $4.00 and up — I've seen $5 and higher — violates, from where I sit, the requirement of a square deal for the customer. Intelligent consumers know that larger quantities of almost anything are less expensive per unit than smaller quantities. Why doesn't Ben & Jerry's offer its product in 48-ounce containers the same way the store brands do? My perception is that they want to force consumers to buy it by the pint for the same reason that some pricy restaurants serve small portions to increase their profits on every meal. No restaurant has ever served me a tiny portion more than once, and nobody is going to sell me one-pint containers when competitors sell three-pint containers for well under three times as much.
Unsafe and unhealthy products also are socially irresponsible. I reported previously that Ben & Jerry's pricey Doggie Desserts lists sugar as a major ingredient. If you have a canine companion, ask your veterinarian what he thinks of giving sugar to dogs, or look online for the opinions of numerous VMDs. I doubt you will find even one who thinks a responsible dog-owner will feed sugar to a dog.
I really think PetSmart and Petco need to take a hard look at whether this is something they want to carry in their stores. Petco's web page says, in fact, "You'll be the talk of the dog park when you break out Pontch's Mix, a just-for-dogs, 100% dog safe combination of peanut butter and pretzel flavors" but then stipulates that it contains "fair trade" sugar while the ingredient list cites water as the first ingredient.
Let's keep this simple, dog parents. I use Smucker's natural peanut butter (peanuts only; very low salt content; and, most importantly, no Xylitol, which is toxic to dogs) to "pill" my dog. It's far cheaper per ounce than Doggie Desserts and contains no sugar, corn syrup, or similar unhealthy garbage. PetSmart, Chewy, and Petco meanwhile sell a very wide array of wholesome dog treats, and they also are a lot cheaper than Doggie Desserts.
So much for Ben & Jerry's customers. Directors and managers also have a fiduciary duty to their investors who, in Unilever's case, include pension funds upon which retirees depend for their livelihoods.
Anuradha Mittal and her like-minded directors do not have the right to risk investors' money on personal "woke" political agendas that are on the wrong side of history in the bargain.
Effi Benmelech, a professor of finance at the Kellogg School of Management, writes, "But Unilever has a fiduciary duty to its shareholders. It is now time for Unilever to find ways to terminate that old arrangement that takes Unilever shareholders hostages by Ben & Jerry's independent board."
The City of St. Clair Shores Police and Fire Retirement System has meanwhile sued Unilever because "[a]s a result of defendants' wrongful acts and omissions, and the declines in the market value of Unilever ADRs, plaintiff and other class members have suffered significant losses and damages."
Ben & Jerry's is meanwhile trying to stop Unilever from selling its Israel-based Ben & Jerry's interests to another company. What are all these lawsuits costing Unilever shareholders, anyway?
If enough people stop buying Ben & Jerry's due to BDS, enough states invoke their anti-boycott laws to disqualify Ben & Jerry's as a supplier, and consumers wake up to the fact that they are paying astronomical prices for the Ben & Jerry's label when they can get the store brand for perhaps a quarter of the price, the company will have to lay off employees — and all because board members chose to bring their personal political agendas under the company's roof.
Here's another problem with the Ben & Jerry's approach: in the world of BDS: women's and LGBT rights end where "Palestine" begins.
Here is a web page where Ben & Jerry's virtue-signals its support for LGBT rights, and perhaps the qualifier "across the U.S." is not there by accident.
This support clearly ends where the Middle East begins because the company supports actions against the only country in that region where LGBT people have legal protections against discrimination.
Women are as eligible as anybody else to be prime minister of Israel while the position of Hamas is, "Muslim women are important in that they 'manufacture men and play a great role in guiding and educating the [new] generation.'" Israeli women, who include Christian and Muslim citizens as well as Jews, can be IDF soldiers, pilots, medical doctors, attorneys, members of the Knesset (parliament), or indeed anything else.
On the other hand, "[w]omen [in Gaza] face widespread discrimination in the economic and social sectors, with limited employment opportunities and virtually no pathways to financial independence."
So-called honor killings of women are punishable by a maximum of three years in prison, and there are no laws against domestic violence. Marital rape is a crime in civilized nations like the United States, Israel, the U.K., and so on, but it is permitted in "outhouse countries" (my family-friendly version of Donald Trump's depiction) like "Palestine." "Palestine" even had a law that absolved rapists from prosecution if they married their victims, a practice that also existed in Europe in medieval times, as depicted by Steeleye Span's The Royal Forester, in which the king decrees,
If he be a married man
Then hanged he shall be,
And if he be a single man
He shall marry thee.
When it comes to women's rights and LGBT rights, Ben & Jerry's words are therefore meaningless virtue-signaling jabber, and the same goes for other BDS-supporters like various women's and gender studies departments around the country, Seattle Education Association, and PSC-CUNY.
Civis Americanus is the pen name of a contributor who remembers the lessons of history, and wants to ensure that our country never needs to learn those lessons again the hard way. He or she is remaining anonymous due to the likely prospect of being subjected to "cancel culture" for exposing the Big Lie behind Black Lives Matter.
Image: RawPixel, CC0 public domain.