You may have seen that Ben and Jerry's Board of Directors put out a statement expressing support for the Occupy Wall Street protestors. It all sounds great on paper.
We know the media will either ignore you or frame the issue as to who may be getting pepper sprayed rather than addressing the despair and hardships borne by so many, or accurately conveying what this movement is about. All this goes on while corporate profits continue to soar and millionaires whine about paying a bit more in taxes. And we have not even mentioned the environment.
We know that words are relatively easy but we wanted to act quickly to demonstrate our support. As a board and as a company we have actively been involved with these issues for years but your efforts have put them out front in a way we have not been able to do. We have provided support to citizens' efforts to rein in corporate money in politics, we pay a livable wage to our employees, we directly support family farms and we are working to source fairly traded ingredients for all our products. But we realize that Occupy Wall Street is calling for systemic change. We support this call to action and are honored to join you in this call to take back our nation and democracy.
Here's what reality tells us. Ben and Jerry's board of directors is meaningless and is mostly charged with keeping up the brand's hippie-loving image. They're owned by Unilever, a large global conglomerate corporation that also owns several other American food companies and produces some of the most caustic chemicals known to man.
Unilver, who reported a 25% increase in full years profits in February, pays CEO Paul Polman almost $4,000,000 a year. Polman also earns $221,000 a year as a non-Executive Director of Dow Chemical Company. (I want in on that non-Executive Director thing. You know he's not going to work at Dow while punching in daily as the CEO of Unilever. I want to get paid almost a quarter of a million dollars a year to not do something.)
Ben and Jerry's founders sold the company to Unilever for $326,000,000 in cash. Unilever has since slashed the work force dramatically and closed factories. You can't make a livable wage when you don't have a job anymore, but don't let that stop the corporate faux-hippies from conning you into buying more anti-Wall Street ice cream.
Unilever shares are, of course, sold on Wall Street.