Hershey Supports Future Female Leaders With Mentorship Program

The "Future CEO" program offers hands-on education to provide skills, tools and guidance.

HERSHEY, Pa. — The Hershey Co. honored International Day of the Girl Child (Oct. 11) with the kickoff of a monthlong campaign to introduce its new "Future CEO" program. It also recommitted ongoing support for nonprofit partners Girl Up and Girls on the Run.

Ranked as the World's Top Female Friendly Company, Hershey is committed to continuing its longstanding efforts to advance gender equity through meaningful programming and partnerships that invest in both girls and women and raise awareness of their impact around the globe.

The company's newest campaign aims to drive mentorship for young girls, reverse mentorship for Hershey leaders and ensure there is a pipeline for an even 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 Co. "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."

"Future CEO" Program

As a critical part of Hershey's larger DEI (diversity, equity, inclusion) commitments, the company is doubling down on its efforts to foster the next generation of women leaders in the workforce. To kick off this work, Hershey launched a new "Future CEO" program, offering hands-on education to young women to provide skills, tools and mentorship as key tools for success.

The initial phases of the program kicked off earlier this month 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 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: 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, Indian and the Philippines (identified by Girl Up) and five from the United States (identified by Girls on the Run).

Each participant will also receive a scholarship to further their education and develop their leadership skills.

Building More Opportunities

With 48 percent of Hershey's global workforce comprising women, the company believes in making a lasting impact and influence outside its own walls by partnering and continuing to strengthen its relationship with key nonprofits Girls on the Run and Girl Up.

Girls on the Run

In the U.S., Hershey kicked off its formal partnership with Girls on the Run, whose mission is focused on supporting, empowering and inspiring girls to realize their limitless potential, in 2022 and recently 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 at 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 2 million girls to know and activate their limitless potential over the past 25 years thanks to generous partners like The Hershey Co.," 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."

Girl Up

Hershey International will continue to support Girl Up, a nonprofit committed to advancing girls' skills, rights and opportunities to be leaders, during 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."

Pennsylvania-based The Hershey Co. has more than 100 brand names in approximately 80 countries that drive more than $8.9 billion in annual revenues, including such iconic brand names as Hershey's, Reese's, Kit Kat, Jolly Rancher, Ice Breakers, SkinnyPop, Pirate's Booty and Dot's Homestyle Pretzels.