In light of the Trump administration’s second crack at an executive order limiting immigrants and refugees from predominantly Muslim countries, we wanted to reiterate Ben & Jerry’s strong opposition to this assault on America’s commitment to fairness, the rule of law, and religious liberty.
At Ben & Jerry’s we understand this policy is not only bad for our nation, it’s bad for business. That’s why following the first executive order banning immigrants from seven predominantly Muslim countries was signed on January 27th, our CEO penned the op-ed below.
To the business community,
As the leader of a company that makes euphoric ice cream, I sometimes feel a bit more like Willy Wonka than your average CEO. We play with our food. We wear a lot of tie dye. Our board is led by activists, most of whom have been arrested sticking up for something they believe in. And we offer yoga classes weekly at our office.
It goes without saying that everyone wants to live and work in safe and secure communities. These are uncertain times that pose new risks for all of us, both at home and abroad. The problems we face as a free society are complicated and I don’t pretend to have the answers. However, I do know that banning people from predominantly Muslim countries, including refugees from war, is not the path to security. If anything, it undermines America’s moral authority as the leader of the free world. It erodes the U.S.’s reputation as a country committed to liberty and justice for all. And it robs America’s companies, universities, and hospitals from the innovators and job creators that will continue to make its economy the envy of the world.
That’s why the Executive Order barring citizens from predominantly Muslim countries is so threatening to America’s business community and it’s economy at large. Given the president’s experience as a CEO, it was alarming that he would slam the front door of the nation on potential employees and employers who sought legal entry into the U.S. If I indiscriminately stopped hiring people simply because they came from a particular place, I’d be putting my global business at a competitive disadvantage. Yet that’s exactly what this order would do to the United States and its economy.
More meaningfully, the proposed ban is a direct assault on the American values of inclusion and respect. I am proud to join other CEOs—from the entertainment, coffee, automotive, tech and gaming industries, to name a few—in denouncing religious discrimination under any guise. As business leaders we have the right and the responsibility to speak out against injustice and to create a more dynamic and inclusive economy.
I am an optimist at heart. I am encouraged by the growing list of companies and CEOs who’ve spoken out to defend the values on which the United States was founded—values that have made U.S. companies the engines that drive the world’s economy. And while we must remain vigilant against those who seek to hurt us, we must not sacrifice our ideals in the process. Our companies and the global economy depend on it.