The Hershey Co. is shoring up both its workforce and diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts with its first bilingual manufacturing plant in Hazelton, Pa. The transformation is part of Hershey’s people-first strategy and its novel Say Hola initiative, a broad program that advances the company’s corporate responsibility commitments.
Among other improvements, Hershey conducts training in both English and Spanish at the Hazelton facility and produces all signs, labels and forms in both languages. Bilingual employees and resources are available on the floor to help with communication, and workers can also use a toll-free phone number for assistance on a 24/7 basis.
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The new approach in Hazelton – a community with a Hispanic population that has grown to more than 60% – has been effective on both fronts of labor and equity. Hershey reported that it has improved retention, attracted more experienced workers and cut its recruitment costs in the nearly one year since the effort began. For example, more than 90% of the site’s recruitment classes now have the desired manufacturing experience, compared to a 50% rate before the program began.
According to company leaders, Hershey is building on that momentum to expand its Say Hola efforts. "At the frontline of our business, our manufacturing employees make what we do possible and are a driving force behind our recent supply chain investments," said Jason Reiman, SVP and chief supply chain officer for the Hershey, Pa.-based legacy CPG. "Say Hola precedes a wide range of new and improved employee support programs launching in 2023 including enhanced parental leave, new training and development opportunities and local community efforts.”
Hershey engaged its internal Latino Business Resource Group (LBRG) to help with planning and rolling out the Say Hola effort at the plant level. The group will remain involved throughout the expansion of the program.
"The Say Hola initiative showcases Hershey's commitment to our people and the communities in which we live and work – both on a local and global scale," added Alicia Petross, Hershey’s chief diversity officer. "Say Hola has accelerated the diversity of our workforce – a key element of our DEI roadmap – and provided upskilling, improved recruiting and retention and most importantly, the program fosters a workplace that looks more like the communities our colleagues live in."
Earlier this year, Hershey was named No. 6 on DiversityInc's Top 50 Companies for Diversity and No. 9 on the Top Companies for Latino Executives list.