February 4, 2021

Corporate America, we need to talk about activism

[] Ben & Jerry's CEO Matthew McCarthy: How to do corporate activism | Fortune© 2020 Fortune Media IP Limited. All Rights Reserved. Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our u003ca href="https://fortune.com/terms-of-use/">Terms of Useu003c/a> and u003ca href="https://fortune.com/privacy-policy/">Privacy Policyu003c/a> | u003ca href="/california-privacy-policy/#notice">CA Notice at Collection and Privacy Noticeu003c/a> | u003ca href="https://fortune.com/right-to-opt-out/">Do Not Sell My Personal Informationu003c/a> | u003ca href="http://preferences-mgr.trustarc.com/?pid=fortunemedia01&aid=fortunemedia01_pub&type=fortunemedia">Ad Choices u003c/a>u003cbr />nFORTUNE is a trademark of Fortune Media IP Limited, registered in the U.S. and other countries. FORTUNE may receive compensation for some links to products and services on this website. Offers may be subject to change without notice.u003cbr />nQuotes delayed at least 15 minutes. 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Matthew McCarthy, Ben & Jerry's CEO, has a message for CEOs who are worried about walking the talk: Don't let fear hold you back. u003c/em>u003c/p> u003cp>But first, here's your u003ca href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E-b5IAt1FiA">Bob Marley- inspiredu003c/a> week in review, in Haiku.u003c/p>u003cp>u003c!-- piano selector -->u003c/p>u003cdiv class="paywall"> u003cp>Don’t worry, ‘bout au003cbr>thing, cause every little thing’su003cbr>gonna be alright!u003c/p> u003cp>Rose up this mornin’u003cbr>smiled with the risin' sun, withu003cbr>three little birds pitchu003c/p> u003cp>on my heart and mind,u003cbr>singin’ sweet songs, melodies u003cbr>pure and true, and nowu003c/p> u003cp>they have a message u003cbr>for you (and me): One bird calledu003cbr>Justice, anotheru003c/p> u003cp>called Sweet Equityu003cbr>the third bird was you! Makingu003cbr>everything alright.u003c/p> u003cp>u003cem>We appreciate how hard you are working. Keep singing your song.u003c/em>u003c/p> u003cp>u003cstrong>Ellen McGirtu003c/strong>u003ca href="https://twitter.com/ellmcgirt">u003cbr>@ellmcgirtu003cbr>u003c/a>u003ca href="mailto:Ellen.McGirt@fortune.com">Ellen.McGirt@fortune.comu003c/a>u003c/p> u003ch3>In Briefu003c/h3>nu003cp>u003cem>My inbox has been running over this week with responses from my last two columns. Many of you have shared your thoughts on the January 6 riots, and a few took issue with mine. (Only one angry unsubscriber, so far.) Some senior leaders shared their plan to denounce the violence and affirm the election results, and some are now having uncomfortable conversations with Trump-supporting executives who hold a much different view. “Black Lives Matter, Colin Kaepernick, nothing compares to the anger now,” one CEO said, via e-mail. “It’s the worst I’ve experienced.”u003c/em>u003c/p>nu003cp>u003cem>So, I put out the raceAhead version of a bat signal.u003c/em>u003c/p>nu003cp>u003cem>Today, we’re turning this space over to u003ca href="https://www.cnbc.com/2020/06/09/ben-jerrys-ceo-business-must-be-held-accountable-in-fighting-racism.html">Matthew McCarthy,u003c/a> the CEO of Ben & Jerry’s, a company that has collectively learned a thing or two about taking important stands. Here, via email, is what he wants you to know:u003c/em>u003c/p>nu003cp>Activism at a corporate level comes down to a unified walk and talk. Businesses must make transparent their values and take actions to address real social and/or environmental ills. If you’re not willing to act, there’s no sense in getting involved in the game because the people you serve are too smart, too savvy, and will call B.S.u003c/p>nu003cp>We believe in using the power of our business to support progressive change and call out injustice. It’s what this business was founded on. In 1979, our co-founders spoke clearly: “Business has the responsibility to give back to the community from which it draws its support.” It set in motion our Social Mission, which actually required another decade to formalize for Ben & Jerry’s.u003c/p>nu003cp>What’s possibly most important for CEOs to hear is that they should not try to be Ben & Jerry’s. Ben & Jerry should not try to be Patagonia. Patagonia should not try to be Lush. Given that each organization is unique, leaders must decide what issues are right for them. Fear of negative impact to the bottom line holds leaders back. There is a reason why no NFL team has picked up Colin Kaepernick. All consumers—especially Millennials and Gen Z—are increasingly demanding that businesses get involved and make a difference. So, by not taking action, you put your brand and future revenue base at risk.u003c/p>nu003cp>And, regarding backlash: expect it. Equally important, support your teams through the criticism when you stand up for your values and take action. Few things are worse than failing to live your values out of fear of criticism. Get over trying to please all people. Businesses should never try to be all things to all people. By the same truth, we should never expect all people or consumers to agree with all of our values. When people or consumers see you strive and sometimes fail in the pursuit of your values, they often become your most loyal fans and advocates.u003c/p>nu003cp>If you’re not doing the work, then you shouldn’t be talking about it externally. That’s authenticity. And it’s not about perfection. It’s about intent, effort, and actions taken in combination. This year, many businesses tried to gently wade into the waters of racial justice without having done any of the work. That resulted in external statements in support of the Black Lives Matter movement that rang hollow. It’s better to focus on one issue than talking about several.u003c/p>nu003cp>Finally, be honest. Ben & Jerry’s still has a lot of work to do to dismantle structural racism, both internally and externally. We’re hiring a new Head of Racial Equity; we’ll increase the number of Black-owned franchises and Black-owned (and led) suppliers because what we’ve done to date falls far short of our vision. The work we’ve done over the past five years on racial justice has provided us with good experience and learning to fuel our next steps. We’ll continue supporting our activism with a new Non-Dairy flavor partnering with Colin Kaepernick, who, as an activist, has inspired us in the way he highlights the systemic oppression of Black and brown people. We will learn from him, as we do with all of our other partners, and together we’ll invite others to join along our activism journey.u003c/p>nu003cp>u003cem>Next week, Great Place To Work CEO Michael Bush weighs in on what’s different about this moment, and how each of us can co-imagine a better future.u003c/em>u003c/p>nu003ch3>On Pointu003c/h3>nu003cp>u003cstrong>We need to talk about the “astonishing” rate of COVID deaths in the Latinx population of Los Angeles u003c/strong>This story from the u003cem>Los Angeles Times u003c/em>sounds the alarm. Across the U.S., people living in the poorest neighborhoods average about 36 deaths a day per 100,000 residents, while those living in the wealthiest zip codes are seeing about 10 deaths a day per 100,000 residents. Latinx residents of Los Angeles county are now dying at a rate of 28 per day per 100,000 residents, up from 3.5 deaths in early November. “This is a staggering increase of over 800% in a very short amount of time,” L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer told the paper. Can you guess why?u003cbr />u003ca href="https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2021-01-14/latino-black-and-poor-residents-suffer-dramatically-worsening-covid-death-rates">Los Angeles Timesu003c/a>u003c/p>nu003cp>u003cstrong>We need to talk about the heartbreaking loss of Indigenous culture due to COVID u003c/strong>The stories are heartbreaking; tribal elders, the keeper of the language, the stories and tradition, are being lost in staggering numbers. “It takes your breath away,” Ira Taken Alive, told the u003cem>New York Times u003c/em>about the loss of four of his family’s elders, including his grandmother, Delores. “The amount of knowledge they held, and connection to our past.”u003cbr />u003ca href="https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/12/us/tribal-elders-native-americans-coronavirus.html">New York Timesu003c/a>u003c/p>nu003cp>u003cstrong>We need to talk about the racist roots of COVID-related health outcomes u003c/strong>Researchers from St George’s, University of London have published new research that finds that racism is a “root cause” and “major driver” of poor COVID health outcomes and poorer health in general. The paper, a collaboration of researchers from Harvard University, the University of Manchester and Imperial College London, explore the bias and barriers in the health care system and call for underrepresented ethnic minorities to be prioritized in vaccine planning. “Any meaningful risk assessments should take ethnicity into account… and where it has been assessed that their risk is high, ethnic minority groups should be prioritized for Covid-19 vaccination,” said Dr. Mohammad Razai, the first author on the paper.u003cbr />u003ca href="https://www.itv.com/news/2021-01-15/covid-racism-root-cause-and-major-driver-in-increased-mortality-rates">ITV Newsu003c/a>u003c/p>nu003cp>u003cstrong>We need to talk about radicalized police officers u003c/strong>This isn’t a conversation about implicit bias or the occasional bad apple. Police departments around the country u003ca href="https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/law-enforcement-military-probing-whether-members-took-part-capitol-riot-n1253801">are investigatingu003c/a> whether officers or retired military members u003ca href="https://www.npr.org/2021/01/15/956896923/police-officers-across-nation-face-federal-charges-for-involvement-in-capitol-ri">attended the Capitol riotsu003c/a> as u003ca href="https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2021/01/12/2-capitol-police-suspended-10-under-investigation-after-capitol-riot/6639735002/">participantsu003c/a>, or were publicly supporting the efforts from afar. But Michael German, a former FBI agent who went undercover with white supremacists and now u003ca href="https://www.brennancenter.org/our-work/research-reports/hidden-plain-sight-racism-white-supremacy-and-far-right-militancy-law">studiesu003c/a> white supremacist infiltration of police departments, says nobody should be surprised. “It’s important to understand that the United States was founded as a white supremacist nation, so our laws enforced white supremacy, so those who were sworn to enforce the law were enforcing white supremacy,” he says. “To imagine there was somehow a miraculous event that cured the police of that problem is foolish.”u003cbr />u003ca href="https://www.motherjones.com/crime-justice/2021/01/an-fbi-agent-went-undercover-to-study-white-supremacists-hes-now-speaking-out-about-racist-police/">Mother Jonesu003c/a>u003c/p>nu003ch3>On backgroundu003c/h3>nu003cp>u003cstrong>We need to talk about white identity u003c/strong>I was recently reminded of Eric Levitz’s fascinating analysis of the u003cem>New York Times’s u003c/em>1619 Project, which at the time was under siege for historical inaccuracies that didn’t match the vitriol it was receiving. “The u003cem>Times’u003c/em>s narrative does not delegitimize the U.S. nation-state, or American patriotism. But it very much does challenge the legitimacy of white American identity – and the secular saints and potted histories that lend that identity its substance,” he writes. “And for many white conservatives in the U.S., the idea of surrendering that identity is quite painful.” So, many of them decided not to surrender.u003cbr />u003ca href="https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2019/08/the-1619-project-isnt-unpatriotic-its-just-anti-whiteness.html">New York Magazineu003c/a>u003c/p>nu003cp>u003cstrong>We need to talk about belonging u003c/strong>It has become the ultimate quest for anyone looking to build an inclusive culture and yet, its very nature is elusive. But, reminds author, researcher and powerhouse Brené Brown, it does have a simple starting point. “The opposite of belonging, from the research, is fitting in,” she says. “Fitting in is assessing and acclimating…Belonging is belonging to yourself, first. Speaking your truth, telling your story.” If you don’t have time for her Netflix special or TED talk, start with this short interview with CBS This Morning, to get you thinking. For majority culture folks, here’s a question: Of all those high performing, blended-right-in “diverse” employees you are so proud of, whose truth have you not yet heard?u003cbr />u003ca href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FQvB3DH2yvM">CBS This Morningu003c/a>u003c/p>nu003cp>u003cem>u003cspan style="font-size: 1.125rem;letter-spacing: 0.035rem">raceAheadu003c/span> is edited by u003ca href="https://twitter.com/aricwithan_a">Aric Jenkinsu003c/a>.u003c/em>u003c/p>nu003ch3>Today’s mood boardu003c/h3>nu003cp>It’s true! Story u003ca href="https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-01-15/national-rifle-association-files-bankruptcy-citing-n-y-politics">hereu003c/a>.u003c/p>nu003cp>u003cimg loading="lazy" class="aligncenter size-large wp-image-2940297" src="https://content.fortune.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/Screen-Shot-2021-01-15-at-5.27.33-PM.png?w=1024" alt="" width="1024" height="470" />u003c/p>nu003c/div>n"},"children":[]}]}]},{"name":"dianomi","config":{"type":"footer"},"children":[]}]}]}]}},"componentData":{},"error":null,"loading":false,"player":{"currentTime":0,"duration":0,"loading":false,"playing":false,"seek":0,"src":"","visible":false,"volume":0.5},"route":{"status":200,"redirectTo":"","redirectStatus":0,"action":"PUSH","pathname":"/2021/01/15/corporate-america-activism-ben-jerrys/","search":"?","hash":""},"visible":{"search":false,"primaryNav":false,"freestar":false,"adminBar":false},"contactForm":{"submitting":false,"submitted":false,"failed":false,"validation":{},"redirect":""},"user":{"isLoggedIn":false,"accessLevel":null}}; ]]> Source

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