Hershey Company Supports Young Female Leaders

The Future CEO program offers education to young women to provide skills, tools and mentorship as key tools for success.

October 12, 2022

HERSHEY, Pa.—In celebration of International Day of the Girl Child, The Hershey Company announced additional programming and community investments to further recognize, honor and uplift women and girls around the world.

As part of the monthlong campaign, the company is proud to announce a new “Future CEO” program and additional support for nonprofit partners Girl Up and Girls on the Run to help drive mentorship for young girls, reverse mentorship for Hershey leaders and ensure there is a pipeline for more diverse workplace in the future.

"At Hershey, we understand the power of inclusivity, equity and diversity and believe we have an important role in recognizing and empowering diverse voices around the world," said Michele Buck, CEO of The Hershey Company. "On this day when we celebrate young women and girls all over the world—and every day—we are committed to supporting young women and girls by helping them harness their potential and giving them a platform to achieve their dreams. By providing access to opportunities and resources, we're also helping build a workforce of the future that reflects the global landscape and creates a more inclusive world."

Hershey’s new Future CEO program offers hands-on education to young women to provide skills, tools and mentorship as key tools for success. While the initial phases of the program will kick off immediately, alongside additional Hershey international leaders' and employees' support in an existing Girl Up mentorship program, the educational components will culminate in March surrounding International Women's Day via a virtual event hosted by Hershey CEO Michele Buck and additional women leaders. While this program is focused on the participants, Hershey also believes it will provide powerful lessons for the company and its leadership team through reverse mentorship, allowing them to better understand the next generation and their thinking in learning from these young leaders.

To bring the program to life, Hershey is partnering with Girl Up and Girls on the Run to identify the “future CEOs of Hershey,” which Hershey defines as driven, passionate young girls whom others can look up to and who have the potential and drive to become one of the next great women leaders in business.

There will be 10 participants total, five from Hershey's key international markets including Mexico, Brazil, Canada, India and the Philippines (identified by Girl Up) and five from the U.S. (identified by Girls on the Run). Each participant will also receive a scholarship to further their education and develop their leadership skills.

The company also has partnered with and continues to strengthen its relationship with two key nonprofits, Girls on the Run and Girl Up.

In the U.S., Hershey kicked off its formal partnership with Girls on the Run, an organization with a mission focused on supporting, empowering and inspiring girls to realize their limitless potential, in 2022 and just renewed its partnership for 2023. In addition to added monetary support, employees will continue to volunteer at all levels of the Girls on the Run organization, including 5ks and other events, as well as co-developing the Future CEO program together.

In addition to the support of the national program, Hershey will provide funding to at least five local Girls on the Run councils to ensure greater access to the organization's fun and inclusive lessons designed to meet the unique needs of each girl, no matter her circumstances, ability or background.

"We have inspired more than two million girls to know and activate their limitless potential over the past 25 years thanks to generous partners like The Hershey Company," said Elizabeth Kunz, CEO of Girls on the Run. "Now, Hershey's 'Future CEO' program is actually showing girls how to reach that potential by paving the path to sweet success in a powerful way. What an incredible program to inspire the next generation of female leaders."

Hershey International will continue to support Girl Up, a nonprofit committed to advancing girls' skills, rights and opportunities to be leaders, the remainder of this year through its ongoing mentorship program and into 2023 as a key partner for the Future CEO program.

On International Women's Day, Hershey announced its initial partnership with the nonprofit and a donation to amplify the voices of girls and women who are making a difference around the world on digital and social platforms. The partnership also includes engagement of five Hershey leaders who are serving as mentors as part of Girl Up's alumni mentorship program.

"Girl Up is thrilled to be in partnership with Hershey and contribute to the success of their exciting new 'Future CEO' program," said Girl Up Executive Director Melissa Kilby. "The world needs new solutions and new leadership now. And with the right training, tools and platforms, we can reach empowered girl changemakers around the world and support them to become the innovative, inclusive and intentional leaders of a better tomorrow."

The Hershey Company says it’s on a journey of celebrating and investing in women in the workplace and communities. The company was named No. 1 on the World's Top Female-Friendly Companies list by Forbes in 2021, and it is among a handful of Fortune 500 companies led by women. Hershey is committed to equal pay, career development and supporting impactful nonprofit partners among other initiatives to support women. Earlier this year, Hershey highlighted the “SHE” at the center of its milk chocolate bar as part of its Women's History Month celebrations.

In August, Hershey’s U.S. business is received its Great Place to Work certification, an award based entirely on what current employees say about their experience working at Hershey. This year's survey of Hershey employees noted justice, pride and leadership as strengths for the company. Hershey's U.S. business joins its operations in Brazil and India in earning this certification honor.

Hershey also ranked sixth on DiversityInc's Top 50 Companies for Diversity list. Hershey's DEI efforts can be seen through The Pathways Project, the company's five-year DEI engagement plan, as well as its global #HerforShe campaign, in which the company used its platform to elevate and support women and girls worldwide.

Read how convenience retailers are approaching diversity initiatives within their companies and the industry in “It’s About the Journey” in the December 2021 issue of NACS Magazine.