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The leader is Jostein Solheim, CEO of Ben & Jerry’s
For the leader, conduct a deeper dive and learn more about the person you have selected. You will be writing a reflective essay about this person using the piece in the text plus two more sources. These courses can be web-based. A reflective essay consists of information you have researched and then your own reflection on why you believe this person is particularly important and connects with your own ethical stance.
The parts of the essay include an Introduction, at least two paragraphs about the person you have selected talking about them, and pinpointing those aspects which lead you to identify and understand their ethical stance. You would also describe your own ethical stance and how you live out that stance both personally and professionally.
Jostein Solheim, CEO of Ben & Jerry’s
Cherry Garcia, Wavy Gravy, and Chubby Hubby are just a few of the wacky flavors churned out by the four-decades-old ice cream company, Ben & Jerry’s. These quirky names are a reflection of the company’s unique business style, something Jostein Solheim signed on to when he agreed to become CEO of the company in 2010.
Ice cream was nothing new to Solheim. Before becoming CEO, he had worked for Unilever’s many ice cream brands like Breyers, Klondike, Popsicle, and Good Humor. Indeed, the Norway native calls himself “an ice cream guy.” And he is wildly enthusiastic about maintaining Ben & Jerry’s iconic weirdness, even celebrating Unilever’s acquisition of the company by eating a full pint of Chunky Monkey.35
But as Solheim knows, Ben & Jerry’s is more than just an ice cream chain; it is also an organization dedicated to making a social impact. The founders of the Vermont-based company, Jerry Greenfield and Ben Cohen, transformed their ice cream–making success into a values-led social mission by supporting a host of ethical positions on such issues as responsible manufacturing, fair trade, and non–genetically modified organisms labeling.36 And Solheim has embraced this important component too. He has led the company to establish public positions on racial justice in the United States, environmental activism, and even private prisons. “What inspires me,” Solheim said, “is what social impact can we create with this business.”37
The activism Solheim supports through Ben & Jerry’s springs from his understanding of the stakeholders in his company. For example, he refers to the consumers as “fans.” “They’re more than just customers,” he explains. “They are bigger stakeholders in our company and we have a responsibility to them beyond a basic transactional exchange of product.” And the same goes for the suppliers, farmers, and NGO partners. “They all connect in a model we called ‘linked prosperity,’ which is circular and reinforcing.”38
It is Solheim’s vision to see Ben & Jerry’s as a leader in ethical change. Making a values-led company that embraces the concept of linked prosperity also highly profitable is major step in transforming the standard business model. He believes it is inevitable that other businesses will catch on and recognize they, too, have ethical obligations to uphold community values and recognize how their work affects the larger global community.39