Great CSR Takes the Whole Organization

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Great CSR Takes the Whole Organization

by Jeff King, Sr. Director, Sustainability, CSR and Social Innovation, The Hershey Company

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.@HersheyCompany Shares Progress on #SocialResponsibility Commitment #CSR
Wednesday, June 22, 2016 - 9:35am

CAMPAIGN: Hershey’s CSR Report Progress



When I joined the CSR team at Hershey, I set out to answer the question, “What does it take to get great CSR work done?” I read articles. I looked at benchmarks. All of the first steps you take when assuming a new role. Nine months in, I’m convinced it takes a clear direction, supported by a committed organization and great people.

Looking at Hershey’s 2015 CSR Report, released last week, I am proud of the scope and scale of what we have accomplished this past year. I also recognize that this is the beginning of the journey, not the ending point.

In 2015, Hershey committed to a global shared social purpose called Nourishing Minds. We are taking our founder’s legacy of helping children in need and combining it with our knowledge of nutrition and food production to establish programs that help ensure children get the basic nutrition they need to build bright futures. We kicked off a new partnership with Feeding America in the United States to provide financial and volunteer support for the Backpack, School Pantry and Kids Café programs. In Ghana, we launched Energize Learning, a collaborative project where we are delivering a peanut-based vitamin- and mineral-fortified nutrition supplement, ViVi, to 50,000 school children daily.

In addition to Nourishing Minds, Hershey is committed to helping African cocoa farmers, who we rely on to provide the key ingredient for chocolate. Our Learn To Grow program provided more than 2,500 training programs to 31,000 farmers in 2015, so they can improve their farms and livelihoods. We are also investing in heathy cocoa communities by building schools and health centers.

As a company, we are committed to meeting the needs of our consumers. We understand that people want to know what’s in their food, and we are providing open and transparent information about our products. We are simplifying our ingredients, starting in 2015 with Hershey’s Kisses Milk Chocolates and Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bars, with more products to follow in 2016.  

The greatest strength of any company is its people, and Hershey is no exception. Our employees across the globe give back to their local communities, from sponsoring daycares in the Philippines and providing meals and daycare to vulnerable children living on construction sites in India, to volunteering at local food banks across the United States. Overall in 2015, Hershey employees donated over 98,000 hours to worthy causes.

This was a great year for CSR, but as I said it was the start, not the ending of Hershey’s journey. In 2016 and beyond, we will continue working to improve the lives of cocoa farmers, expanding the reach of Learn To Grow to 70,000 farms by 2019 and making more investments in community development. We will accelerate and grow the scope of improvements aimed at reducing our impact on the environment, something we committed to by signing the White House American Business Act on Climate Pledge. We’ll expand our Nourishing Minds programs focused on children’s nutrition to all the places we do business, as we work toward our goal of nourishing one million minds by 2020. Across the board, we will work to make every dollar work harder, increasing our number of partnerships which work toward aligned goals and amplifying the impact of our social investments.

Our ambition is to develop social innovation models that move beyond just philanthropic-driven programs to those that can move forward independently. Philanthropy is definitely needed, as it helps accomplish good work that otherwise would not happen. But, philanthropy is often a fixed sum of money. When it’s spent, it’s spent. CSR activities that are self-sustaining can have a life of their own; a life that enables growth and expands the influence of helping others.

Finally, we know we cannot do this alone. We have many partners – governments, NGOs, and nonprofits, and we know we will need more to accomplish our goals. We are energized by the opportunities we have to make a difference. We have the direction, we have the commitment and we have great people.  It’s time to get to work.