Howard University President Wayne A. I. Frederick and Ben & Jerry’s CEO Matthew McCarthy conducted a virtual fireside chat to discuss the equity, advocacy and innovation in corporate America. (Courtesy Photo)

By Deborah Bailey,
Special to the AFRO

Howard University President Wayne A. I. Frederick and Ben & Jerry’s CEO, Matthew McCarthy met with Howard students virtually this past week to discuss equity, advocacy and innovation in Corporate America.

McCarthy discussed Ben & Jerry’s commitment to racial equity and the company’s history of advocacy and activism with students gathered.

“The company is founded on the concept of equity, but we’ve got a long way to go,” McCarthy admitted. “Equity is not a destination, it is a process,” he added.

Ben & Jerry’s statement on racial equity dates back to October 2016 when the company was one of the first in the nation to affirm the Black Lives Matter movement.

“I’m a big fan of Ben & Jerry’s because of the theme of social justice,” Frederick added.  “Ben & Jerry’s is probably the best corporate example of social justice in America today,” Frederick continued.

 McCarthy continued saying that consumers are now looking for brands that actively support social causes.

“The data is very clear,” McCarthy explained. The trend shows that brands that are trying to improve the state of our world are the brands that are being chosen.

McCarthy added social activism is important in employee recruitment and retention for the company.

“It really helps you in attracting and retaining talent. Nobody wants to work for a company that has crappy values,” McCarthy added.

Frederick agreed that today’s students are looking for work settings that support their activism.

“Our students want to join a company that has a background in social justice. One of the simplest things you can do is reduce barriers so your employees can participate in social justice activities,” Frederick added.

Frederick mentioned helping students engage real world opportunities at Ben & Jerry’s as well as other corporate and organizational settings by moving to new curriculum models that allow students flexibility in moving toward their goals.

“We need to start focusing on students’ mission and not their major,” Frederick said.

“We need to start allowing students to take courses that focus on what they want to do with their lives,” Frederick added, using his own example of moving through an accelerated undergraduate program that led to medical school in less time.

“I knew exactly what I wanted to do and took a compendium of courses that fit with my career goals,” Frederick added.

McCarthy announced to students the establishment of a new fellowship program the ice cream maker is developing for Howard students to engage in professional development with Ben & Jerry’s.

“I’m proud to announce the Ben & Jerry’s Fellowship in collaboration with Howard University,” said McCarthy.

“The only way we are going to survive and thrive is to drive up the voices at our table,” McCarthy added. The fellowship program would support “talented students to help us further our vision,” McCarthy continued.

Additional information about the new Ben & Jerry’s Fellowship Program for Howard University students can be obtained through Howard University’s Office of Corporate Relations.

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