Companies Act 2006, S172
Ben and Jerry's is now a Unilever company, courtesy of the shareholders. Unilever is sort of a descendant of Lever Brothers, who brought Port Sunlight, and Sunlight Soap, into the world. The Lever brothers had some things in common with Robert Owen. Most modern companies have eff all in common with Robert Owen and the Lever brothers and the original Cadburys/Rowntrees and...
Mr Worstall, are you familiar at all with UK company law?
If you were, you'd know that this business about "the interests of the shareholders must be paramount" (to coin a phrase) is BS.
Section 172 of the 2006 Companies Act (below) specifically says company Directors must consider the interests of employees, suppliers, community, environment etc, and not just in a short term context either.
Obviously nobody ever bothers with this, and the consequences of ignoring it are nil, but this is The Law as it has been in the UK for a few years, so would contributors please not repeat the mistaken claim that (UK) law says the shareholders always come first.
Better still, if you see the claim repeated elsewhere, point out the Section 172 obligations go wider (significantly wider) than just maximising short term shareholder profit.
From e.g. http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2006/46/section/172
172 Duty to promote the success of the company
(1)A director of a company must act in the way he considers, in good faith, would be most likely to promote the success of the company for the benefit of its members as a whole, and in doing so have regard (amongst other matters) to—
(a)the likely consequences of any decision in the long term,
(b)the interests of the company's employees,
(c)the need to foster the company's business relationships with suppliers, customers and others,
(d)the impact of the company's operations on the community and the environment,
(e)the desirability of the company maintaining a reputation for high standards of business conduct, and
(f)the need to act fairly as between members of the company.
(2)Where or to the extent that the purposes of the company consist of or include purposes other than the benefit of its members, subsection (1) has effect as if the reference to promoting the success of the company for the benefit of its members were to achieving those purposes.
(3)The duty imposed by this section has effect subject to any enactment or rule of law requiring directors, in certain circumstances, to consider or act in the interests of creditors of the company.