Corporations and Social Movements: Ben & Jerry’s, AT&T, T-Mobile and Black Lives Matter

Black Lives Matter, corporations, Policing in America, politics

Ben and Jerry’s, the ice cream company that we all know and love took an audacious stance in support of the Black Lives Matter(BLM) movement and message. Last week, the corporation in an unprecedented, and very unconventional manner decided to offer support for the movement. The company boldly declared that “All lives do matter. But all lives will not matter until Black Lives Matter.”

The company’s purpose to bring awareness to social justice issues and racism that exist within  our society. Ben and Jerry’s also published a blog post on its website, “7 Ways We Know Systemic Racism is Real” outlining 7-core areas where systemic racism still exists: wealth, employment, education, criminal justice, housing, surveillance, and healthcare. Earlier this year, Ben and Jerry’s put up money to support voting rights efforts by creating the “Empower Mint” flavored ice cream and vowing to donate funds from the sale of the ice cream to the North Carolina NAACP.

Ben and Jerry’s decided to take a stance and engage in the movement to “ensure justice.” The company desires to empower and encourage people to “act toward justice…and to act from a place of power and love rather than fear and anger.” But, Ben and Jerry’s is not the only company to take get involved in the movement and conversation.

AT& T CEO, Randall Stephenson and T-Mobile’s CEO, John Legere both recently spoke out about the way Black people are treated in America. Speaking to AT&T employees at a company conference, Stephenson addressed the issue of racial tension within our country also by declaring that “Black Lives Matter.” He challenged employees to be uncomfortable and to have the challenging conversations around race.

These corporations have taken a bold yet necessary step in the conversation regarding race relations in this country. Many companies have not been as forthright and direct as Ben and Jerry’s, or as transparent as Randall Stephenson in explaining a friend’s experience as a man of color. However, when CEOs of corporations are taking the time to shift the conversation from sales to social justice issues there must be a major issue, and a lot at stake.

AT&T, T-Mobile, and Ben and Jerry’s each may have a different reason or rationale for joining the national conversation regarding racism, policing in communities of color, voting rights, and the many issues that plague black and brown communities. The bottomline is that these corporations will suffer on some level without the support of people of color. The economy and corporations suffer when there is unrest and highly tense social climates.

It is not just our elected officials , educators, or grassroots organizers who play a vital role in the national discourse and dialogue; but corporations do as well. They play a major role as many Americans are consumers, employees, and investors. Corporations must begin to integrate social justice awareness and platforms into their marketing and messaging moving forward to be effective and successful in business.

 

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