Great CSR Takes the Whole Organization

When I joined the CSR team at Hershey, I set out to answer the question, “What does it take to get great CSR work done?” I read articles. I looked at benchmarks. All of the first steps you take when assuming a new role. Nine months in, I’m convinced it takes a clear direction, supported by a committed organization and great people.

The greatest strength of any company is its people, and Hershey is no exception. Our employees across the globe give back to their local communities, from sponsoring daycares in the Philippines and providing meals and daycare to vulnerable children living on construction sites in India, to volunteering at local food banks across the United States. Overall in 2015, Hershey employees donated over 98,000 hours to worthy causes.

This was a great year for CSR, but as I said it was the start, not the ending of Hershey’s journey. In 2016 and beyond, we will continue working to improve the lives of cocoa farmers, expanding the reach of Learn To Grow to 70,000 farms by 2019 and making more investments in community development. We will accelerate and grow the scope of improvements aimed at reducing our impact on the environment, something we committed to by signing the White House American Business Act on Climate Pledge. We’ll expand our Nourishing Minds programs focused on children’s nutrition to all the places we do business, as we work toward our goal of nourishing one million minds by 2020. Across the board, we will work to make every dollar work harder, increasing our number of partnerships which work toward aligned goals and amplifying the impact of our social investments.

Our ambition is to develop social innovation models that move beyond just philanthropic-driven programs to those that can move forward independently. Philanthropy is definitely needed, as it helps accomplish good work that otherwise would not happen. But, philanthropy is often a fixed sum of money. When it’s spent, it’s spent. CSR activities that are self-sustaining can have a life of their own; a life that enables growth and expands the influence of helping others.

Finally, we know we cannot do this alone. We have many partners – governments, NGOs, and nonprofits, and we know we will need more to accomplish our goals. We are energized by the opportunities we have to make a difference. We have the direction, we have the commitment and we have great people. It’s time to get to work.