Hershey Takes Steps To Reduce Child Labor

By Dori Meinert Mar 1, 2012
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March CoverFacing pressure from human rights groups, The Hershey Co. has pledged to invest $10 million in West Africa to reduce child labor used in the production of cocoa.

The announcement was made in late January, days before the International Labor Rights Forum was scheduled to run an ad about Hershey's child labor issues on a Jumbotron outside Lucas Oil Stadium during the Super Bowl. The ad, later pulled, was aimed at highlighting Hershey's failure to ensure that it wasn't purchasing cocoa from farms using child labor.

During the next five years, Hershey's $10 million investment will be used to help improve farming practices to increase cocoa farmers' income, with the intent of reducing child labor and increasing school attendance. Hershey also will partner with the Rainforest Alliance to monitor farmers for instances of unsafe or illegal child labor and to conduct training.

Hershey won't have HR professionals on-site quite yet. A planned farmer and family development center in the heart of Ghana's cocoa region "will give Hershey its first physical presence in West Africa and an opportunity for our employees to interact directly with Africa cocoa farmers and learn from these experiences," says spokesman Jeff Beckman.

By the end of 2012, Hershey has pledged to use only certified chocolate in its Hershey's Bliss products. Hershey estimates the decision will directly impact 750,000 cocoa farmers and indirectly benefit more than 2 million West Africans by 2017.

Hershey had been accused of lagging behind competitors in ensuring that it purchased cocoa certified to meet certain labor, social and environmental standards. Most major chocolate companies offer fair trade options, and many smaller companies have been using 100 percent fair trade cocoa for years, according to a September 2011 report by Global Exchange, Green America and the International Labor Rights Forum.

As a group, the organizations launched a national "Raise the Bar, Hershey!" campaign to increase public attention on the company and attracted more than 100,000 signatures on a petition urging Hershey to adopt fair trade sourcing practices.

Text Messages: Believe Them Or Not!

People are more likely to lie in a text message than other forms of communication, according to a study by David Jingjun Xu, an assistant professor at Wichita State University's W. Frank Barton School of Business.

The study involved 170 students performing mock stock transactions in one of four ways: face-to-face, video, telephone or text message. The "buyers" of the stock were informed afterward that the stock was rigged to lose half its value and were asked to report whether the "brokers" had used deceit to sell their stock.

The researchers found that buyers who received information via text messages were 95 percent more likely to report deception than if they had interacted via video, 31 percent more likely compared to face-to-face, and 18 percent more likely compared to a telephone interaction.

While surprised that people were less likely to lie in a video than in person, Xu attributed the result to the "spotlight" effect where a person feels they are watched more closely on video.

The findings have implications for the workplace: Managers should be aware and minimize the use of communication methods that promote deceptive behavior, says Xu, who co-authored the study with Ronald T. Cenfetelli and Karl Aquino of The University of British Columbia. The study will appear in the March issue of Journal of Business Ethics.

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