CEO promotes corporate activism to Raleigh business leaders
Posted June 30, 2020 5:33 p.m. EDT
Updated June 30, 2020 7:35 p.m. EDT
Raleigh, N.C. — The Raleigh Chamber of Commerce invited Ben & Jerry's CEO Matthew McCarthy to speak to local business leaders in an effort to discuss corporate activism at a time of social unrest.
"We definitely talk about our business as an aspiring social justice company," said McCarthy who addressed the group from his home in Vermont via Zoom.
"He leads an iconic, pioneering global brand that continually breaks the rules in how business can be a force in good," said Danya Perry of Triangle DEI Alliance and the Raleigh Chamber.
Ben & Jerry's has made headlines for taking public stands on social issues. Most recently, the company has been vocal about "Black Lives Matter" on social media. The posts have been controversial among customers and within the company itself.
McCarthy explained to local leaders why and how his company makes decisions.
"We have people everyday sending us notes saying we don't like what you are doing. It's not my goal. My team doesn't set out every day to make people angry," he said. "When we first put out a post in support of Black Lives Matter, I mean it was weeks of phone calls. Weeks of phone calls into our consumer services line, into our fan care line."
He answered questions about how the company handled the push-back and why he feels businesses can play a role in social change.
"Business has to play a role," McCarthy said. "I like to believe, I like to think, that all businesses are about people. And businesses have to make their values clear."
McCarthy was one of two people invited to speak to the Chamber gathering today. The other was Opal Tometi who is a social activist and co-creator of the viral #Blacklivesmatter hashtag. She was unable to make the discussion due to an injury. The Raleigh Chamber of Commerce has plans to have her at a later date.