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CNBC JUST 100: Doing the right thing for our communities, people and planet

Hershey recognized as one of America’s Most JUST Companies for the third consecutive year.
Leigh Horner
Vice President, Global Sustainability & Corporate Communications

Key Takeaways:

    • Our commitment to doing what’s right for our communities, people and planet has been synonymous with the Hershey name since our founding in 1894. Today, we impact our communities through programs that support basic needs, education and advance inclusion and equity.
    • We remain focused on fostering a strong, diverse and inclusive workplace. Programs prioritizing employee well-being and enhanced health and safety measures continue to protect our employees during the pandemic.
    • Across our supply chain, we’re committed to reducing our emissions and impact on the planet through investing in renewable energy, advancing sustainable packaging solutions and more.

Ask any Hershey employee around the world and they’ll tell you that the company’s commitment to doing the right thing is a part of our culture and legacy. Our values of integrity, togetherness, excellence and making a difference guide the actions we take in showing up for our communities, people and planet, and also guide us in our purpose of Making More Moments of Goodness for consumers around the world. 

To live our purpose and meet the needs of consumers, we rely on the dedication of my incredible colleagues, a strong network of partners and suppliers, resilient growing conditions from which to source the highest quality of ingredients, thriving communities, shareholder trust and deep relationships with our customers and consumers. Over the past year, we’ve focused intently on new and innovative ways to engage these stakeholder groups and work together to bring our iconic products to market responsibly. 

We are honored to be named for the third straight year as one of America’s Most JUST Companies by JUST Capital and media partner, CNBC, and to be in the company of the 100 publicly traded companies leading the new era of responsible capitalism.  

JUST Capital evaluates U.S. corporations that outperform on the issues that matter most to the American public: creating jobs in the U.S., paying a fair, living wage, prioritizing accountability to all stakeholders, protecting worker health and safety, providing benefits and work-life balance, cultivating a diverse and inclusive workplace, producing sustainable products and protecting customer privacy.  To read more about the methodology behind the award, visit the JUST Capital website. 

This recognition comes on the heels of Hershey being named to the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index and #1 on Forbes’ list of the World’s Top Female Friendly Companies.   

Here’s how we served five critical stakeholder groups in 2021 and made a difference on those issues that matter most: 


Investing in our Employees  

Our more than 17,000 employees around the world are the heart of Hershey.  With a legacy rooted in being part of something bigger than ourselves, our employees are more than candy and snack makers, marketers and salespeople—we are Moment Makers. It’s this dedication and care towards each other and our stakeholders that is core to Hershey’s culture. It’s also why we are always investing and evolving our workforce and value proposition.  

To do this successfully, we start from the ground up with our people. It is imperative that as a company, we listen to, engage with, and advance our employees to make our company better for them and, in turn, create greater value for our many stakeholders. This past year has shown three key areas of notable progress—continuous and active listening, public examples of vulnerability from leadership and employee well-being—that have significantly changed the way we work for the better. In 2022, we’re taking these key learnings and plan to continue assessing our progress in ways that ensure we further foster a culture of “goodness” in the pathways that lie ahead.  


Listening and Responding to Our Customers and Consumers 

At Hershey, we take pride in our high-quality and great-tasting snacks that are accessible to everyone. Consumer needs are changing, and there’s a heightened focus on health and wellness; in response, we're expanding our snacking portfolio to include more better-for-you options. From zero sugar and organic confections to better-for-you salty and savory snacks, we want to ensure that everyone has something that meets their needs. Our expanding snacking portfolio has seen continued growth of consumer favorites like SkinnyPop and Pirate’s Booty. The recent acquisitions of Dot’s Homestyle Pretzels and Pretzels Inc. bring bold, distinctive seasonings and a flavorful crunch for new snacking occasions and additional manufacturing capabilities.  
Our evolving product offerings are exciting and enticing and include organic versions of our Hershey's and Reese's chocolate brands, thin versions of beloved classics like York Peppermint Patties or Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and more zero sugar offerings across our snacking portfolio, in addition to low-sugar products through recently acquired Lily’s. We look forward to more innovations to come from our recent investment in Bonumose, Inc., a start-up company with breakthrough innovations in plant-based food ingredients, including rare and innovative sugars.  
For those consumers who want to indulge in a classic Hershey’s treat, those beloved products are here to stay, too. We know it’s about creating products that meet a range of consumers’ needs and snacking occasions throughout the day. Read more on our expanding snacking portfolio with more better-for-you choices here.  


Supporting our Communities  

Making a difference in the communities in which we live and work has been an important part of our legacy since Milton Hershey founded Milton Hershey School in 1909. Our impact on the community has been even more critical during the ongoing pandemic. In 2021, we continued our support of non-profits and schools with our disposable mask donation program through the end of the 2020-2021 school year. When the Delta variant threatened in-person learning in Fall 2021, we revived the program to distribute masks to more than 30,000 students across twelve school districts. This is one piece of our long-standing focus on children and youth through education and well-being programs.  

Our community investments also support basic needs for community members facing hunger, healthcare and housing challenges. As part of our ongoing commitment to support organizations that create more inclusive and equitable communities, we deepened existing relationships and forged new partnerships with inclusion-focused non-profits. In 2021, we were proud to increase our investment in manufacturing communities across the U.S., with an emphasis in Memphis, TN and Hazleton, PA. We also increased our investments in communities around the world, creating new partnerships in Korea, the U.K., United Arab Emirates and deepening our existing impact in Mexico, Brazil, Malaysia and the Philippines. Read more about our legacy of helping our communities thrive here.  


Protecting our Planet and Reducing Hershey’s Environmental Impact 

In March 2021, we announced our 2030 science-based targets, an evolution of our commitment to advance environmental progress and contribute to global climate action. These commitments to reduce global emissions are consistent with the levels required to meet the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement and the targets covering emissions from our operations to limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C.  Also by 2030, we aim to reduce packaging weight by 25 million pounds; this is in addition to a packaging weight reduction goal of 25 million pounds that we set in 2015 and met in 2020 (five years early). We know that reducing packaging weight is not the only solution – that's why we’re targeting 100 percent of our plastic packaging to be recyclable, reusable and compostable by 2030. We are proud of the progress we’ve made so far and recognize there is great work to be done. Collective action across our company, industry and the business community are key to combating climate change.  Read more about those environmental commitments here. 


Driving Value for Shareholders 

With our dynamic workforce leading us forward, our teams have done an outstanding job navigating a volatile and unpredictable environment for almost two years. Underpinned by our purpose, our strategy is focused on three key priorities: growing our portfolio of beloved brands through acquisitions like Dot's Homestyle Pretzels and Pretzels Inc. and Lily’s; adjusting our campaigns and reallocating investments in real time to optimize product mixes that meet the needs of consumers; and investing in our talent to bring the best team to the table each and every day. For more information on our latest earnings and to hear more about how we’re delivering value for our shareholders, visit our Investor site


If you’re interested in starting a career with Hershey, explore our open positions.