“Ben & Jerry’s”-The Ethical Approach

We have learned about ethics, environmental sustainability, conservation and the renewal of resources through the product life cycle. In operations management sustainability refers to the ecological stability of the environment. The ethical approach extends through the design, production and destruction of the product. Ben & Jerry’s is one of the most ethical and socially responsible companies in existence today. Ben & Jerry’s views product design from a systems perspective by weighting the costs to the firm compared to the cost to society.

  • Design-Ben & Jerry’s realize the importance of creating packaging that will reduce negative impacts on the environment. In 2009, they began using a certified paperboard for the entire stock of U.S. pint containers that comes from a forest managed for the protection of wildlife. Moreover, the boxes used for Ben & Jerry’s ice cream bars are made from 100% post consumer recycled paperboard. (Developing safe and environmentally sound practices)


  • Production– In the Vermont manufacturing plants, Ben & Jerry’s has invested heavily in energy-efficient technology. This includes cooling systems, lighting, water and waste management systems. (minimizing waste of resources)


  • Destruction– Ben & Jerry’s sends dairy waste from the Vermont plants to two of the farms that supply them with fresh dairy ingredients. The waste is put into methane digesters along with other farm waste where it produces energy to power the farm. (Reduce environmental liabilities)


Social Responsibility

Here are some ways Ben & Jerry’s focuses on ethics, the environment and social responsibility:

Ben & Jerry’s has always been focused on the communities in which they serve. In the UK, they have a bus that travels through the streets during festivals selling ice cream. The profits gained are used to support charitable causes in the local community such as “Childline” and “Trees for Cities”.

The company offered stock options to its hometown of Vermont where it began when it decided to expand into other cities. Ben & Jerry’s wanted the community who supported its beginning to be the first to benefit from its success.

Ben & Jerry’s uses certified humane cage-free eggs in their ice cream products in Europe. In the US, Ben & Jerry’s ice cream products are 99% cage-free. The existing 1% is in the novelty ice cream bars sold in the US and Asia.

What are some things your employer has done to become environmentally friendly with respect to design, production and destruction?








Service Productivity

This week we learned about Service Productivity. It reminded me of one of the Finance Retreats at my last internship with the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA). The CHA provides a service to the residents of public housing and section 8 voucher holders. The retreats were led by the CFO, and designed as a way for finance staff members to leave the office building, meet at a central location for the purpose of doing team building exercises and brainstorming as a group on how to be more productive around the office. This productivity included saving the company money, how to work cross-departmental cohesively, and how to bring extra revenue into the company. One of the reasons it is so important to conserve money at the CHA, is because they are one of the few housing authorities across the country who are given money by The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to use where they need it, for things such as resident programs. Other housing authorities are told by HUD where they must spend the money.


We came up with the following solutions:


Saving the CHA money

  • We had several unused industrial sized printers sitting in the hallway. We decided to sell them and use the money to purchase new ones.
  • Instead of each group within Finance (budget, financial reporting, treasury etc.) ordering their own supplies, one person would be responsible for ordering supplies. This would cut down on extra unused supplies and double ordering.


Working cross-departmental cohesively

  • We determined that employees in one area of finance may not be respecting due dates, which would cause another area to be late submitting reports, in turn lowering productivity. For example, financial reporting may depend on certain numbers from Accounts Payable (AP) within a given time frame. If they don’t receive those numbers, they cannot complete their reports.


Bringing in additional revenue

  • The CHA is one of the largest housing authorities (HA) in the country. We decided to use our staff as consultants to advise smaller housing authorities on various issues.


Productivity is defined as the ratio of outputs (in this case service) divided by the inputs (labor and capital). In these three cases, the CHA is using its employees as input and the output is the savings of money and employee time, as well as revenue generated which translates into money that can be used to further service the residents.


What are some ways you have improved service productivity at your company?