Ben & Jerry’s CEO asks corporate America to join reparations fight

i 1 to move forward america must be honest about our racist pastand fix it

America should lastly reconcile with a historical past that, whereas full of remarkable accomplishments, continues to be deeply tarnished by the unique sin of slavery—the act of dehumanizing and destroying Black individuals for revenue. Corporate America has a particular position to play in encouraging our nation to tackle this historical past, and a Home Judiciary subcommittee listening to this week on H.R. 40 ought to be a second after we make our collective corporate voices heard.

As CEO of Ben & Jerry’s, I spend my days (and a few nights) fascinated about how finest to develop our firm. As a result of we’re a values-led firm, I imagine that rising our firm supplies worth not simply to shareholders, however to society. Our distinctive enterprise mannequin, which was the imaginative and prescient of our cofounders, has sought revolutionary methods to advance financial and social justice whereas promoting ice cream. I’m happy with our method, however I’m not naive sufficient to suppose that it alone can confront the buildings and programs that perpetuate racism in America.

That’s why I’m calling on enterprise leaders and CEOs to pursue the identical rules we’re making use of to fairness and variety contained in the 4 partitions of our firms to the general public coverage debate exterior our companies.

We have now a particular alternative and accountability to be heard as a result of our collective voice is highly effective. Occasions of the final yr have proven that People’ expectations of corporate citizenship are altering quickly. American customers need firms to have a place on societal points that features tackling racism and advancing social justice.


Matthew McCarthy, CEO of Ben & Jerry’s [Photo: Ben & Jerry’s]

Enterprise leaders even have an obligation to tackle these points as a result of the American economic system, and by extension our firms, have reaped monetary reward and prosperity constructed on centuries of enslaving Black our bodies. Essentially the most highly effective and rich nation on Earth was constructed on a basis of stolen labor. The wealth amassed by white individuals and handed down from technology to technology was perpetuated by a authorized system of segregation and discrimination that continued lengthy after slavery ended.

These impacts are nonetheless with us at present. Our nation’s big racial wealth hole—the place the online value of a typical white household is sort of 10 instances larger than that of a Black household—is the direct results of slavery and white supremacy, which explains we should now commit ourselves to proper the wrongs of our previous.

Final summer season’s uprisings in response to the killing of George Floyd and the latest rebellion at the US Capitol are simply two examples of the ability that racism and white supremacy proceed to maintain in our nation. Many firms and types have since sought to weigh in on problems with racial justice. We should advance financial and social justice via our day-to-day operations, so I encourage my counterparts within the enterprise world to do greater than communicate up; I urge them to join me in addressing coverage options that dismantle the programs and buildings that perpetuate systemic racism and produce outcomes that dramatically drawback individuals of coloration.

Supporting the passage of H.R. 40 would do exactly that.

I’ve come to perceive that solely via acknowledging our historical past of slavery, legalized segregation, and white supremacy can we tackle the racism that corrodes our nation from the within out. The passage of the landmark laws H.R. 40 would start that long-overdue course of by establishing a federal fee to examine the lasting results of slavery and discrimination from 1619 to the current. The fee would additionally suggest acceptable treatments that may be the inspiration for nationwide therapeutic.

None of us residing at present owned slaves or created the legacy of our 400 years of racism. Nonetheless, we’re the one ones who can do something about it. Latest occasions have proven us what ignoring our previous means for our current.

H.R. 40 is our greatest probability at present to lastly come to phrases with the complete story of our nation’s founding. By wanting carefully and truthfully at slavery’s lengthy legacy, together with its direct hyperlink to our nation’s prosperity, we’ll lastly have the opportunity to stay up to our founding precept that each one individuals are created equal.


We can not transfer ahead collectively as a nation till we start to grapple with the sins of our previous. I perceive that acknowledging the structural racism that’s deeply woven into the material of our society is tough. It may be uncomfortable and even shaming. However H.R. 40 provides us an opportunity to be sincere about our historical past and longing for our future. I name on different CEOs and enterprise leaders to use our distinctive energy and privilege to assist our nation start to heal.

Matthew McCarthy is the CEO of Ben & Jerry’s.