Shared Goodness Promise: 5 Questions With Jeff King, Sr. Director, Hershey


Hershey Shared Goodness Promise CSR

The Hershey Co.’s corporate social responsibility program has set out a new Shared Goodness Promise, which strengthens the company’s commitment to making a positive difference in peoples’ lives through investments, collaborative programs and sustainable business practices.

Inspired by its founder Milton Hershey, who created a company with a social purpose, the framework has four pillars: Shared Futures, Shared Communities, Shared Business and Shared Planet.

Earlier this year, Hershey launched its Cocoa for Good strategy. “Hershey is a company that has married being purpose-driven with offering meaningful, impactful day-to-day work,” said Hershey CEO Michele Buck. “The reason is simple: we believe—and prove—that you can be a fierce competitor in the market while operating in a compassionate way with teams of people who are about each other and their communities.”

“The Shared Goodness Promise aims to make a difference in the lives of thousands of people around the world, from the West African farmers growing the cocoa used in our products to the employees in our facilities in the United States,” said Jeff King, Senior Director of Sustainability, Corporate Social Responsibility and Social Innovation at Hershey. “It helps us to focus our resources and the talents of our people—whether they’re nutrition, manufacturing or finance experts—in ways that are a making a powerful difference in the lives of individuals and entire communities.”

Hershey Rise Against Hunger

brandchannel met with King to find out more about Hershey’s CSR efforts.

Can you tell us about the Shared Goodness Promise, and how it affects the lives of those around us?

Jeff King Hershey

The Shared Goodness Promise is a component of the CSR report, which starts to focus our activity and be a good declaration of where we’re really putting our CSR focus and some of the work under those areas.

Our continued commitment to helping children succeed is really an extension of our founder Milton Hershey’s legacy of leaving his entire fortune to start the Milton Hershey School, which at the time was for orphaned children, and is now one of the largest private schools in the country serving over 2,000 children every year.

But how do you integrate the business into activities to help solve social issues? Think of all the work we do in our supply chain around cocoa and improving family livelihoods around transparency and bringing more information to consumers.

Shared Community is really where I think our CSR has been grounded over the past few years and it’s been that commitment to improving the lives of the people where we live. Shared Planet is where we start to focus more and more on reducing the overall footprint and ecological impact of the company.

How do you do this in a way that’s authentic and responsive to your different stakeholders while staying true to the original founding mission and values?

A lot of the pillars are grounded in many of the things that Milton Hershey did.

He democratized chocolate. Chocolate was for the wealthy only and he was really the one who devised the way to bring chocolate to the masses and make a huge business for the greater good. In Hershey, Pennsylvania, he invested in communities to make sure his workers had good homes to live in. He invested in an entertainment infrastructure so they had good things to do on the weekends, and an educational infrastructure for their children.

Hershey has approximately 17,000 employees worldwide and more than 80 brands that drive more than $7.5 billion in annual revenues. How do you engage that enormous workforce? 

Our employees are the ones who get the work done and bring the strategy into life every day. I made a conscious choice in this year’s report that more and more of that storytelling should be done by the person who led the project or did the work or volunteered in the community or what have you. So that’s one thing I do like in this particular report—how we move just beyond corporate style corporate storytelling into more personal storytelling.

We are working on how to leverage these remarkable people and let them come up with their own ideas and run with them. Folks in our mailroom had an idea about unwanted mail that finds its way into the wastebasket. The implemented a program to cut back on the amount of unwanted mail received throughout the company.

That entirely employee-led program is really the behavior that you want when you sit in my chair and do my job.

Hershey Rise Against Hunger

Can you explain how “cocoa for good” works?

Again, it’s about our commitment to nurturing children. We have extensive programs in West Africa where we produce and distribute nutritional supplements through school feeding programs to help educational performance. It’s really to give them the life skills they need to begin to succeed and to be able to find employment opportunities.

And then of course there’s a commitment to preserving ecosystems because you know farming is tied to the land and you have to make sure that ecosystem is there for you to have cocoa today and long into the future.

We try to ensure a healthy ecosystem and have no deforestation as another commitment—and it’s going to take collaboration between companies and our suppliers on the ground that we work with to source cocoa. Governments along with many other stakeholders from civil society work together to help solve some of these larger issues.

Hershey’s has its female CEO, Michele Buck. How do diversity and inclusion permeate throughout the culture?

Everyone in the company has a role to play when you start talking about diversity and inclusion and what it represents.

Businesses have a role in shaping society and solving large social issues that we contend with globally. And it’s becoming more and more apparent that it’s where businesses, governments, civil society and NGOs are all coming together and working hand-in-hand on solving these issues, this is where I think you start to make large scale traction.

As we learn how do we bring our business to bear more and more on these issues and to hold out a hand so we can work together, and then have sometimes the government bring the two of them together, then you have all parties working together to solve issues, that is honestly the area that I find very exciting. I think it would stretch across all of the examples that I could list about the work that we’re doing right now and I’m excited to see that come to fruition.

This article first appeared in

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