At Ben & Jerry’s our social mission is at the heart of everything we do, so it should be no surprise that we have a Social Mission Team made up of passionate folks dedicated to fulfilling that mission. We recently sat down with our Social Mission Activism Manager, Chris Miller, to get the inside scoop on his latest initiative. Part firebrand, part policy wonk, Chris spends every day championing the causes that are important to us at Ben & Jerry’s.
I have the best job in the world. I have access to the types of talent and resources that most organizations dream of. Our people are world-class and we have ice cream, a great tool to engage communities with. We’re in a unique position to advocate for change.
Over the last 20 years, Chris has been involved in everything from complex legislative battles, to grassroots issues advocacy for huge NGOs. At Ben & Jerry’s he’s using our social reach, our scoop shops, and our fans to get results. Chris is currently masterminding Ben & Jerry’s GMO Right-to-Know campaign.
A handful of powerful corporations are trying to deny a grassroots movement for transparency in food. These corporations thought they had ended the fight in California when they outspent proponents four or five to one to defeat Prop 37. They were wrong.
In May, a cheering crowd watched Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin sign a bill making Vermont the first state in the country to require the labeling of genetically modified organisms on food packaging. For Chris Miller it was a clear sign that Ben & Jerry’s had helped counteract the flood of misinformation from special interests that had doomed GMO-labeling efforts in other states.
I think our voice was critical to winning this issue in Vermont, because it's our home and because we’re a global business. Being able to talk about packaging changes, sourcing non-GMO ingredients without raising costs carried a lot of credibility with lawmakers meant we could refute the arguments of opponents.
Now Chris’s eyes are turned to Oregon, where a GMO-labeling ballot initiative is headed down to the wire this fall. He’s working on registering young voters and getting them to the polls. At the same time, he’s gearing up for our biggest campaign ever in 2015.
We’ve never led a global advocacy campaign, but now we are going to leverage the full power of the company on climate change. We’ll be educating and activating all over the world leading up to climate talks in Paris, where it is hoped that a legally-binding framework for a global deal will be reached. It’s going to take lots of grassroots pressure.
Stay tuned for ways you can get involved as Chris carries our mission forward!
This is the confluence of an incredibly important issue at a time when the global reach of our brand and our consumers can have a real impact. It’s going to be an incredible year.
Our Social Mission is just one important aspect of our three-part mission. Want to learn more about how our three-part mission guides our decision making? Head this way!