Corporate Social Responsibility

You Don't Need a Cape to Be a Hero


Jeff King
Senior Director Sustainability, CSR and Social Innovation

In one of my early management classes, we studied the teachings of Peter Drucker -  decentralized leadership, the knowledge worker, and these are as relevant today as they were then.  But, one Drucker quote stood out, “Rank does not confer privilege or power. It imposes responsibility.” It also conjures Spiderman’s quote, “With great power comes great responsibility,” Maybe Peter Parker also studied Drucker, but I’m not sure.

We are definitely not superheroes, but companies have a responsibility to help solve societal issues. This is not a choice, it is a moral imperative to step up and do your part. And this is especially true for iconic companies as they are seen as leaders in their field or category and should serve as an example for others. Even more important is when a company commits to something, it does what it says. As we release our latest Shared Goodness Report, I’m reminded of the importance of commitments and sticking to them.    

Now more than ever, the world is looking to companies like ours for leadership. I hope that by sharing our progress and reaffirming our commitments, we are not only doing our part, but also inspiring others to take action in their own community. HINT: there is a challenge at the end for you to get involved, so keep reading.  

As you consider how you can make a difference, I want to share more about how Hershey is doing its part.

We have a history of giving children the opportunity to succeed, which is grounded in our founder’s story. Milton Hershey left his entire fortune to establish Milton Hershey School, which today gives approximately 2,000 underprivileged children a quality education and a positive, structured home life to help them gain the skills to be successful. 

We continue that legacy by supporting children’s programs in the areas where we live and work. We see it as living our legacy and contemporizing a core value and responsibility that has been part of our DNA for more than a century. Global hunger is a pervasive issue with 795 million people chronically undernourished1. In the United States, one out of six children live in food-insecure households2.

Through our Nourishing Minds shared social purpose, we’ve committed to nourishing one million minds by 2020, helping children have the nourishment they need to be successful in school. This is why we partner with Feeding America and their network of food banks in supporting backpack programs and school pantries to help ensure children get the nutritious foods that they need. We also invest in cocoa communities in Africa through our Energize Learning school feeding program, getting nutrition to more than 50,000 children every day. We are not alone as many other great companies also support these types of efforts (see for a list of participating companies).

The environment is a critical influencer for our global food supply. Climate change, with rising temperatures and changing rainfall patterns, threatens the food supply in many parts of the world.  So, in 2015, along with 153 other companies, we signed The American Business Act on Climate Pledge – committing to reduce our environmental impact. For Hershey, this equates to a 25% reduction across a range of environmental impact measurements by 2025.  We’re calling it “25 by 25.”

Are these two commitments something for which we should seek accolades?  While we are happy when we receive them, it isn’t the reason we act. We believe in making a difference in areas where we can have an impact. In a time when commitment seems to mean less and less, Hershey reaffirms to do not only our part, but our duty, to lead.  

So here’s the challenge for you, and I encourage you to join us. What are some things that you can you do to help?  Perhaps donate to your favorite charity that helps others or the planet, volunteer at a local food bank, or, find something you’re passionate about and volunteer there. Finally, inspire others and add your voice to raise awareness of important issues.

For every person who posts on social media and commits to donating one hour of their time or one dollar ($1.00) to their favorite charity, The Hershey Company will donate $1 to Feeding America, up to $100,000.  You can make your commitment by tweeting @HersheyCompany with #SharedGoodness from June 21 - July 31, 2017. 

Believe it, say it, do it. 

I hope you’ll join us in sharing a little goodness.