Materiality Interview Series – Todd Camp, Director of CSR & Community Relations at Hershey’s
Last week, I introduced you to our “Materiality Interview Series” with Richard Pearl, Global CR Manager at State Street, who spoke about conducting a materiality analysis for State Street. This series is part of a global Materiality research we’ve been doing, and published through the e-book “50 Examples of Materiality Matrices from 5 Key Industry Sectors“. Today, we are proud to welcome Todd Camp, Director of CSR and Community Relations at Hershey’s, as a second guest for our materiality series.
If you have any questions for Todd, don’t hesitate to ask them in the comments!
Q: Hi Todd! Let me start by asking you a simple question: What exactly do you do at Hersheys ? What are your missions?
A: I’m the Senior Director of Corporate Social Responsibility and Community Relations, overseeing the company’s global CSR efforts. Our CSR framework is Shared Goodness: “Good Business. Better Life. Bright Future.” We believe that operating ethically and responsibly allows us to foster a better life, for our employees and our stakeholders, with a particular focus on creating a bright future for children in need. Our company was founded upon a social mission, to fund the Milton Hershey School, today the world’s largest residential pre-K to 12 school, serving nearly 2,000 children from severe poverty or abject social risk. The trust that funds the school is our largest shareholder, so literally, the success of our company benefits children in need. This foundation mission, set forth by our founder Milton Hershey, sets the stage for our approach to CSR today and into the future. We continue this focus on helping children in need, but also address the needs and expectations of our various stakeholders – which begins with our materiality analysis.
How long has Hersheys been publishing Sustainability reports? And conducting a materiality analysis?
We published our first CSR report in 2009, and have been basing both our reporting and prioritizing our CSR efforts based on our materiality analysis since then.
You last report (published in 2014) is one of the few GRI-G4 report in your industry. How did you get your hand on this new framework?
Hershey is committed to increasing our transparency and disclosure, and had been utilizing the GRI G3 – however when the G4 was released, we quickly analyzed the changes and enhancements and decided that it was the right time to adopt the new framework, despite the increased requirements and time commitment. We also provided feedback on the drafts of the G4, so we were fully prepared to take on this new framework.
What tools were you using in the process of creating your Sustainability report?
In addition to the key findings from our materiality process, we use a variety of tools – including interviews, surveys, moderated meetings, consumer inquiries and complaints, amongst many others. Internally, we talk to senior leaders and general employees at all levels and in all regions. Externally, we engage with thought leaders, consumers and our other key stakeholders – such as our business partners, investors, activist groups and NGO’s and government/regulatory agencies. We collect a wealth of information on both the internal and external environments that shape and affect our business, and tailor our reporting approach, as best we can, to maximize the effectiveness of our reporting efforts.
Was your company used to conduct stakeholders engagement and materiality analysis processes?
We leveraged the expertise of some external thought leaders to inform our efforts, then directly engaged with representatives of our various stakeholder groups. I am an engineer by background, and was recruited for this role to drive more data-based decisions, more metrics and more of a process mindset to sustainability, so Hershey takes a very analytical, data-based approach to our materiality analysis.
What were your main materiality sources?
Employees at all levels, as well as key representatives from each of our 7 stakeholder groups (Investors, Business Partners, Activist Groups/NGO’s, Government Agencies, Communities, Consumers and our employees). Additionally, we also analyzed significant trends and emerging issues in our industry in general to inform our efforts, and also benchmarked against our peers, competitors and also companies that we deem as best in class in terms of materiality and sustainability.
What are your key material aspects? How different are they from your industry peers and competitors?
We have 17 different material issues that all pertain to our business in some way – ranging from sourcing to transparency to environmental stewardship to diversity. These are quite similar to our industry peers, however the relative ranking of them does vary based on our business priorities and external stakeholder expectations. Our key issues are Responsible Sourcing (predominantly Cocoa and Palm Oil), Ethics & Transparency and Food Safety. We also place an emphasis on Environmental Stewardship, even though it’s not as highly ranked externally by our stakeholder group, because it is an inherent part of our corporate values.
What type of design did you choose to illustrate your materiality matrix? Why?
We choose a simple matrix that plotted our 17 material issues, with internal priorities on one axis and external priorities on the other axis (so the issues that appear in the top right corner are the highest priorities both internally and externally, and that’s where we focus our efforts.
What was your biggest challenge when working on your Sustainability report? How did you overcome it?
The biggest challenge was in collecting all of the data that we needed from all of our global facilities, as well as providing a balanced discussion on both our progress and our shortfalls. We overcame these obstacles through persistence, and continuing dialogue with key internal stakeholders to gain alignment on a variety of topics.
To conclude, what makes a good Sustainability Report and Stakeholder Engagement process in your view?
Broad, comprehensive and balanced. It must reflect both internal and external priorities, and include both progress and shortfalls, otherwise the credibility is not there. It must also demonstrate adaptability – things changes, in some cases quite rapidly, so companies need to demonstrate how they are adapting and reacting, or even better, being proactive, to significant trends and transformative landscape changes. Stakeholder engagement is a never ending journey – it requires open, honest and frequent communication and more importantly follow through to be effective.
We greatly thank Todd for this great testimonial! Interested in learning more about Materiality? Download our free benchmarking e-book here!