How socially responsible businesses became a movement

How did sustainable business that support a triple bottom line of people, planet and profit become a movement? We talk with leaders of this movement from its founding to today. We look at how Vermont energized the socially responsible business movement, and how Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility and New Hampshire Businesses for Social Responsibility have evolved differently, and what issues and history they share in common. (September 12, 2018 broadcast)

Jane Campbell, executive director, Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility 

Pat Heffernan, president, Marketing Partners, and a founder, first president, and former board member of VBSR

Michelle Veasey, executive director, New Hampshire Businesses for Social Responsibility 

Can a vanilla ice cream company fight white supremacy & lead radical change? Outgoing Ben & Jerry’s CEO Jostein Solheim makes the case

Jostein Solheim has just stepped down as CEO of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream after eight years at the helm of this iconic progressive company. He took the job a decade after the company’s purchase by Unilever, and some worried that Ben & Jerry’s might retreat from its social mission. Instead, Solheim doubled down: during his tenure, Ben & Jerry’s became a certified B Corporation, signed an agreement with Migrant Justice called “Milk With Dignity” to protect and empower migrant dairy workers, and reduced chemical use within the company’s supply chain. Ben & Jerry’s is now among the only corporate sponsors of the Poor People’s Campaign, continuing work started by the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., more than a half century ago. Solheim is now directing Unilever’s North American food and beverage operations. He reflects on blending business and activism, fighting white supremacy and poverty, and making great ice cream. (August 29, 2018 broadcast) 

Jostein Solheim, CEO, Ben & Jerry’s, 2010-2018

Procuring fairness

Can the power of state procurement be used to give incentives to companies that create livable wage jobs and good benefits? We discuss legislation that would level the playing the field for socially responsible businesses. (March 29, 2017 broadcast)

Dan Barlow, public policy manager, Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility

Pat Heffernan, president, Marketing Partners

Jennifer Chiodo, co-owner, Cx Associates

VBSR: A quarter century of socially responsible business in Vermont

This year marks the 25th anniversary of Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility. From early efforts by business people who dubbed themselves “socialists for capitalism,” Vermont has been at the forefront of the socially responsible business movement. VBSR is now the largest statewide socially business association in the country. As home to iconic socially responsible brands such as Ben & Jerry’s, Gardener’s Supply and Seventh Generation, Vermont businesses have pioneered the idea of businesses with a “triple bottom line:” measuring success in terms of people, profits and the environment. We speak with Vermont business leaders who have nurtured this movement since its inception:

Dave Barash, co-founder of VBSR, longtime social entrepreneur who worked for Ben & Jerry’s, currently Director of New Ventures for Vermont Energy Investment Corp.

Allison Hooper, co-founder of Vermont Creamery, early VBSR board member and on the original board of the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund

Bruce Seifer, VBSR founding member, appointed by Burlington Mayor Bernie Sanders to lead the City of Burlington’s economic development efforts, which he did for three decades

Julie Lineberger, former VBSR board chair, co-owner with her husband of LineSync, an architectural firm

Will Patten, former VBSR executive director, co-owner of Hinesburgh Public House, a socially responsible restaurant

Can business be a force for good?

Can capitalism solve the problems of capitalism? Can business be a force for good? Two pioneers of socially responsible business hold a public conversation and offer their experiences and views on these and other topics with The Vermont Conversation host David Goodman.This is an edited version of a Vermont Town Hall public conversation held on Sept. 26, 2014, at Spruce Peak Performing Arts Center in Stowe, Vt.

Jeffrey Hollender, founder of Seventh Generation and Sustain Condoms

Tom Chappell, founder of Tom’s of Maine and Rambler’s Way Farm

Ben Cohen of Ben & Jerry’s; Labeling GMO’s, 4/17/2013

Ben Cohen, co-founder of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, discusses what makes a business socially responsible, his Stamp Stampede campaign to get money out of politics, the boycott campaign against Ben & Jerry’s over ice cream sales in Israel and the Occupied Territories, his thoughts on Occupy Wall Street, and humor in organizing. We also talk with Falko Schilling of VPIRG about the campaign to require labeling of genetically engineered food.

Judy Wicks, socially responsible business pioneer, 4/10/2013

Judy Wicks, VBSR’s 2013 Spring Conference keynote speaker, socially responsible business pioneer and founder of the White Dog Cafe in Philadelphia, talks about her work, life, and her new memoir, Good Morning, Beautiful Business: The Unexpected Journey of an Activist Entrepreneur and Local Economy Pioneer.