By David Rodbourne, vice president of the Center for Ethical Business Cultures

A post-Valentine’s Day presentation convinced 190+ business professionals and students there is more to chocolate than indulging in that wonderful burst of flavor. “Chocolate and Beyond” offered by the Center for Ethical Business Cultures, explored The Hershey Company’s efforts to meet challenges in corporate responsibility in its supply chain. Hershey, one of America’s oldest and most iconic brands, brought its unique history to a discussion that spotlighted its unique corporate structure, supply chain challenges, community commitments and the remarkable Milton Hershey School.

Andy McCormick, vice president of public affairs at Hershey and a panel from Cargill, St. Thomas and the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy provided rich insights and, pun intended, food for thought. Remarks dug into how a company, in this case Hershey, answers the question “to whom and for what is business responsible” both inside and beyond the formal boundaries of the organization.

The cocoa industry confronts numerous issues, certainly obesity and nutrition but notably child labor in harvesting cocoa and working responsibly with hundreds of thousands of very small growers in West Africa. Change happens only by developing partnerships that engage growers, major suppliers such as Cargill, civil society organizations, competitors and industry groups, customers and governments. Clearly, while much progress has been made, much work remains to be done. Hershey’s next CSR Report on goals and progress in their journey is due out late spring.

Editor’s note: CEBC is working to upload a video of the program in the next few days at www.cebcglobal.org.