Hershey ‘Future CEO’ Program Supports Young Leaders


Hershey, PA — The Hershey Co. is expanding its programming and community investments to further recognize, honor and uplift women and girls around the world. As part of a monthlong campaign, the company unveiled a ‘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 a 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,” says Michele Buck, CEO of Hershey. “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.”

As a part of Hershey’s larger DEI commitments, the company says it is doubling down on its efforts to foster the next generation of women leaders in the workforce. To kick off this work, Hershey is launching a new ‘Future CEO’ program, offering hands-on education to young women to provide the skills, tools and mentorship as key tools for success.

While the initial phases of the program 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 notes it will also 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, 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 says.

With 48 percent of Hershey’s global workforce comprised of women, the company says carving a path for young women and girls is non-negotiable. To make a lasting impact and influence outside its own walls, the company has partnered with and continues to strengthen its relationship with two key nonprofits – Girls on the Run and Girl Up – to execute against this belief.

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 2 million girls to know and activate their limitless potential over the past 25 years thanks to generous partners like The Hershey Company,” says 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 non-profit 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 non-profit 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,” says 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.”