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Hershey's 'culture of inclusivity' targets 50% female representation by 2025

·Reporter, Booking Producer
·3 min read
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Chocolate giant Hershey's (HSY) is aiming to empower and uplift females during Women's History Month, both internally and across the globe.

For a limited time, snackers can buy a full-size Hershey bar that amplifies the "SHE" in Hershey's. The campaign began in Brazil in 2020, and spread to the U.S., in addition to seven international markets including India, Mexico, Philippines and Saudi Arabia. In addition, some wrappers will feature female icons respective to their country.

Veronica Villasenor, Hershey's vice president of confection, told Yahoo Finance this initiative is in line with the company's values.

"We believe in equality, in equity...we believe everyone has the right to be heard and amplify their voice," she said. The campaign "stands for connections and bringing everyone together."

The Pennsylvania-based confection maker also announced plans to donate a combined $250,000 to two female-focused, U.S.-based nonprofit organizations, Girls on the Run, and Girl Up. Villasenor said both organizations "share the same values" as Hershey's, "to develop the next generations of leaders across the world."

The donations will be down payments for ongoing partnerships, to "make sure they continue to strive in their mission" and help to develop programs and activations across the company's markets, the executive added.

Representation in Hershey's workforce

Hershey’s is celebrating the central role women and girls play in all of our lives and highlighting the “SHE” at the center of the iconic milk chocolate bar as part of Women’s History Month celebrations. (COURTESY: Hershey's)
Hershey’s is celebrating the central role women and girls play in all of our lives and highlighting the “SHE” at the center of the iconic milk chocolate bar as part of Women’s History Month celebrations. (COURTESY: Hershey's)

Female representation in terms of both equality and equity are also top of mind inside the company. By 2025, the company aims to increase and maintain its global female representation from 47% to 50%.

In addition to that, it aims to increase leadership roles held by women from the current 40% to 42%. According to the 2020 Sustainability Report, women make up 48.1% of Hershey's global workforce, 37.4% of leadership roles across the globe and the Board is currently made up of 42% of females.

Villasenor, who worked her way up from an assistant brand manger at a Hershey Franchise in Mexico to her current role nearly 20 years later, says the company helped her to "find" her voice on her journey to be a leader.

"I spent five years before coming from Mexico to the U.S. and being in a new market learning," she told Yahoo Finance, which was "a big change" for her. She credited strong mentorship from both men and women for helping her out.

"That enabled me to amplify the voice in me and be confident to share those ideas and recommendations to drive the business and win in the marketplace," she added.

In her current "dream job," Villasenor is"fully committed" to Hershey's goals to "advance our culture of inclusivity," to help promote Hershey's — and society's — goals on pay, leadership and representation.

By mentoring talent among both men and women, she believes it creates a platform where "everyone has a seat at the table" and "a voice," which in turn delivers success.

Villasenor said Hershey's 125-year history has included "doing the right thing for others," which helps her appreciate her job.

"I love doing the right thing also for our communities, growing together and enabling with programs like the one that we're talking today...to celebrate women and girls and really build that next generation of leaders," she added.

Brooke DiPalma is a producer and reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter at @BrookeDiPalma or email her at bdipalma@yahoofinance.com.

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