Yesterday was a day that I have been looking forward to for a long time. It was the day we finally got to deliver all 100,000 petitions that the Raise the Bar, Hershey! campaign has collected to their intended recipient: John Bilbrey, CEO of Hershey.
We have been collecting petitions for just over a year. Signers are calling on the Hershey Company to remove forced labor, child labor, and human trafficking from its chocolate bars. In partnership with Global Exchange, the International Labor Rights Forum, the Not for Sale Campaign, the New York State Labor Religion Coalition, and countless schools and congregations, we gathered more than 50,000 signatures. Then last month we teamed up with Change.org, an online platform for social change, to collect another 50,000 signers to our online petition. (This platform also sends automatic emails to Hershey executives, board members, and members of the Corporate Social Responsibility team. If you haven’t signed yet, it’s not too late!)
Before we even reached the front door of Hershey’s Corporate Headquarters, we were approached by two men who must have been part of Hershey’s security team. They were ready for us and seemed pretty nervous about what we had brought for them. (This campaign is having an impact!)
These men accepted the petitions on behalf of the CEO, saying they would pass them on. We were unfortunately not able to engage with anyone at Hershey about the demands of the campaign, yet this was still an important step. In addition to the stack of petitions we delivered to the CEO, we also sent a copy of the petitions to all of of the members of Hershey’s board. If the board members were not aware of the concerns of their customers before, they are now!
With Halloween only days away, chocolate companies are in the limelight. We’re pointing the spotlight to Hershey in particular because the company lags far behind its competitors when it comes to tracing its supply chain to prevent abusive child labor. We are hoping this extra attention Hershey is receiving this year will push the company to do right by their customers, and the children of West African cocoa-growing communities.
Hershey, your mission is to bring sweet moments of Hershey happiness to the world every day. Will you raise the bar and commit to developing a Fair Trade Hershey bar by Halloween? That truly would be sweet.