The Hershey Chocolate Company has grown to be one of the most profitable chocolate companies in the world, and the largest producer in North America. What interests me (besides my love for chocolate) is the transparency and initiative that Hershey is taking to report their corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities. Achieving the B+ level of Global Reporting Initiatives (GRI) in 2011, Hershey has taken some big steps since establishing their strategic CSR goals. After doing a bit more research into the company, I was pleasantly surprised to learn about the history of the company and its foundation from the start back in 1893. If you are an avid chocolate lover, I encourage you to do the same and find out what you are supporting. But, what I can tell you is that it is nice to see that they have not forgotten their routes established by the compassionate humanitarian himself, Milton Hershey.
The company focuses on including all stakeholders in order to identify their company values and guide their CSR metrics and decision making. Since publishing their first CSR report in September of 2010, they conducted surveys and asked for comments from external and internal stakeholders, such as consumers, employees, investors, business partners, communities and local governments, policy makers, and NGO’s around the world. Through this stakeholder engagement, Hershey decides on top priorities for mid-long term strategic CSR initiatives. These priorities included ethical sourcing, sustainable agriculture, global competitiveness, talent management, child labor, food safety, and consumer health. In addition, the company has adopted a CSR framework to build upon each year and guide strategic planning. The foundation and pillars of the framework include the marketplace, environment, workplace, and community.
Each pillar had specific goals listed along with the accomplished performance of 2011. One such example, a goal in the Marketplace pillar, was to partner with NGO’s, cocoa sector companies, and governments to agree on milestones in measuring progress for sustainable cocoa farming. The 2011 performance shows that Hershey launched “CocoaLink,” a learn to grow program in Ghana, and has partnered with the US Department of Labor and the International Labour Organisation Program to combat child labor, among many other initiatives in this category. Then, the report looks ahead, and establishes new 3-year goals.
Recently, acknowledged as one of America’s best corporate citizens in Corporate Responsibility Magazine this year, Hershey Chocolate Company is making many strides and I believe will continue to be recognized as leaders in the category, especially if they continue down their current path. I encourage you to check out their CSR report and get an idea of what corporations are doing to gauge their CSR work. What do you think?
By Dena New