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Purpose, Strategy & Culture

Honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. — knowing from where we have come, and where we need to go

Hershey celebrates the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. and all that he did to create a more diverse and inclusive world. We know the importance of continuing the work that Dr. King started and are committed to doing our part to create more diverse and inclusive communities.
LaQuita Smith
Sr. Manager, Global Inclusion & Employee Experience

Key Takeaways:

    • LaQuita Smith is the Senior Manager of Global Inclusion and employee experience and works every day to ensure that employees are being treated fairly, while making an impact in the lives of Hershey employees around the world.
    • Dr. Martin Luther King’s life and work was to create a better world. The deaths of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, as well as the treatment of Christian Cooper have drawn much needed attention to the issues of systemic racism in the United States. Here at Hershey, we are committed to making Hershey more diverse, equitable and inclusive.
    • Hershey hosted our first Juneteenth town hall, where we started an open dialogue around a new enterprise-wide inclusion strategy. We are thrilled to now announce that we have co-created ThePathways Project, which focuses on giving people more opportunities to join, grow, and reach out.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. illustrated how one person’s life—a life of perseverance, passion, motivation, dedication, trust, empathy, remorse, servitude, love compassion, drive and collaboration—can directly impact the lives of others.

In my role at the Hershey Company as Sr. Manager, Global Inclusion and Employee Experience what I constitute as success is a meaningful impact on the lives of all people at all levels of the company. I am very passionate about the work I do and being able to influence diverse thought for all. Ensuring employees are being treated fairly with a consistent focus on improvement is what fuels me to get up every day knowing I have a purpose to be the best leader, peer, employee and friend. The greatest reward is knowing others believe you are making a difference in what you do.

“Everything that we see is a shadow cast by that which we do not see.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

Being a Hershey employee, I have seen the importance of culture, values, and behaviors. Employees are treated with respect and dignity across the company. There is a true sense of community and the welcoming of diverse thought and perspective. The work the company has done and continues to do around diversity and inclusion is making a difference and creating a lasting commitment to employees across the company. I speak from personal experience when I say that it makes us as employees feel that we all matter and belong. This sentiment proved to be a critical need during this trying time and we’re not stopping here.

More work to do

Dr. King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech shared a vision of equality, equity and inclusion. A vision of a future in which discrimination and racial inequality no longer plagued our country. The murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and the actions against Christian Cooper, magnetized present-day systemic issues facing the Black community. For some, making it impossible to deny or ignore these realities or turn the other way. For others, these events illustrated what was already known: racism, inequality and fear are commonplace for the Black, Latino and Indigenous communities, and that we as a country have work to do to make our experiences more equitable.

Here at Hershey, we also have work to do. And we’re comfortable being open and honest about that. It’s true that we’re frequently named a best place to work for diversity and proud of the work we have done to earn these distinctions. But we know we have more work to do to listen, learn and act to invite and engage more voices, more experiences and more perspectives.

In 2020, we took time to reflect, and engage employees across every function and level to understand how they were feeling, listen to their experiences and how we, The Hershey Company, could make the greatest impact on advancing inclusion in our workplace and our communities.

We convened our first Juneteenth Town Hall to promote bold transparency and real conversation on race and our workforce. At this meeting, we committed to working together to refresh our enterprise inclusion strategy and make a meaningful impact. With our employees leading the conversation, we set our sights on tearing down barriers that would stop us from making progress. We then held listening sessions with our employees to listen, learn, lead with empathy and try to understand each other from a different point of view.

A refreshed inclusion strategy to be proud of

As we celebrate the legacy of Dr. King we are taking what we learned in 2020 and applying it to build an even brighter future for 2021 and beyond—and for this, and for many other reasons, I am proud to be an employee of The Hershey Company. Our refreshed inclusion strategy was co-created by our employees and our leadership to reflect what we heard from our dynamic workforce. This strategy focuses on creating:

  • More pathways to JOIN – bringing in a wider range of talent and perspectives
  • More pathways to GROW – recognizing and develop talent we haven’t in the past
  • More pathways to REACH OUT – showing up for consumers and communities in new ways

Our long-standing values of togetherness, making a difference, integrity and excellence have created an inclusive environment, and through this strategy we are working to go further; to be even more inclusive of all employees and of diversity of thought and experiences. It’s in all of us to create change in our workplace and our communities. To close with Dr. King, “We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.”

We look forward to sharing our actions, progress and results throughout 2021 and beyond.