Ben & Jerry’s: an ethical dilemma

It’s amazing how quickly companies can react when they get a mention in the pages, online or printed, of Ethical Corporation. Webcombing software, in particular, means that companies can and will respond quickly if they don’t like what they read.

Jon Entine’s column in the October issue was a case in point. It examined the problems Ben & Jerry’s franchisees have been experiencing in the US (see http://www.ethicalcorp.com/content.asp?ContentID=4550&ContTypeID=52).

Ben & Jerry’s were, understandably, keen to have a right to reply. This we have published on the web and in the November print edition http://www.ethicalcorp.com/content.asp?ContentID=4622.

The issues around Ben & Jerry’s and their franchisees raised some interesting questions. What happens when a generally praiseworthy company needs a nudge back into place (whether or not Ben & Jerry’s is such a company)? How should we, Ethical Corporation, react to criticism from a company regarding one column when the same company has had a great deal of positive coverage elsewhere?

These are what we were asking ourselves in the light of Jon’s column and the response from Ben & Jerry’s.

And, to a degree, these questions remain hanging. Thankfully, for me, the role of the readers’ editor is only to maintain balance, and not establish any other policy. And hopefully that is what was achieved in this case. Let me know if you disagree.

Ian Welsh
Readers’ Editor

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