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Responsible Recruitment and Employment

We strive to protect the rights of workers from the point in which they are recruited and hired through the time they are employed in our value chain.

Hershey does not tolerate child or forced labor in our operations and value chain. One of the ways we combat forced labor is through our commitment to responsible recruitment and employment, and our endorsement of the Priority Industry Principles and the Employer Pays Principle. While the causes of forced labor are complex, Hershey recognizes the importance of promoting responsible recruitment and employment practices to ensure that no workers in our supply chain find themselves in situations of forced labor.

In 2021, Hershey launched our Responsible Recruitment and Employment Program (Recruitment Program) to proactively manage the recruitment and employment practices of labor service providers in Hershey’s owned operations (offices and plants) and select strategic co-packers. In addition, it allows Hershey to verify labor service providers’ compliance with our Responsible Recruitment Policy and our commitment to the Employer Pays and Priority Industry Principles. Through our Recruitment Program, Hershey collaborates with our labor service providers on continuous improvement through corrective action plans and capability building where needed.  


Responsible Recruitment and Employment Program Approach

Enrolled labor agencies must follow the process below:


Our Responsible Recruiting & Employment Policy outlines our global standard for responsibly recruiting workers employed by third parties that support Hershey. It is meant to be used in conjunction with, and provide additional guidance beyond, our Supplier Code of Conduct by our third-party labor providers.

All labor service providers enrolled in the Recruitment Program formally acknowledge our Responsible Recruiting & Employment Policy and Supplier Code of Conduct on an annual basis.  


One of our strategies to promote responsible recruitment and eradicate forced labor is strengthening the management systems of labor agencies that recruit workers into our Hershey facilities and strategic co-packers. Labor agencies are required to complete a recruitment-specific Self-Assessment Questionnaire (SAQ) every one to three years, depending on the risk score of the country in which the agency is located and its previous SAQ score. We also verify labor agencies’ recruitment, hiring and employment policies and procedures through our own desktop research. Where our expectations are not being met, we require that labor agencies take corrective action and submit evidence of completion.

Capability Building & Training

We are also partners with the Responsible Labor Initiative (RLI) to offer training to our buyers and suppliers through The RLI’s E-Learning Academy. In particular, we provide training with smaller agencies to help them identify root causes of nonconformities and implement effective corrective actions.

The RLI is a multi-stakeholder, multi-industry initiative focused on ensuring that the rights of workers who are vulnerable to forced labor in global supply chains are consistently respected and promoted. Through our participation in the RLI, Hershey has the opportunity to leverage industry best practices and tools, including training resources, risk assessment tools, and migration corridor data and research, among other resources. Participating in the RLI also allows Hershey to support advocacy efforts and larger initiatives to address the root causes of forced labor and recruitment-related issues, tackling shared concerns such as wages, working conditions, safety, land rights and environmental conditions.

Audit & Remediate

All labor services providers recruiting and hiring to Hershey’s manufacturing plants and strategic co-packers are assessed during Sedex SMETA 4-Pillar audits of those operations.

Where needed, leveraging a risk-based approach, labor service providers may be required to undergo an on-site assessment, such as a Sedex SMETA 2-Pillar audit, or deploy an anonymous and confidential engagement survey to their workers.

In instances where non-compliances are identified and attributed to the labor service provider in a Hershey facility’s SMETA 4-Pillar audit or through labor service provider specific assessments, Hershey requires and supports the development of a corrective action plan and remediation of the issue. Issue remediation is verified through follow-up audits or assessments.

Our Responsible Recruitment and Employment Program works together with our broader efforts to combat forced labor though our Responsible Sourcing Supplier Program, our use of certifications and on-the-ground programs.