George Sheldon/Shutterstock.com)

Hershey: Leading With Empathy and Connection

Originally published on thehersheycompany.com by Katrina J. Briddell Manager, Global Sustainability & Social Impact

There’s no denying: it’s been a tough year for everyone around the world. Here in the U.S., we’ve faced an unrelenting pandemic, mass movements for racial justice, raging wildfires, devastating hurricanes, and an election cycle that revealed that the nation is more divided than ever. And it’s taken its toll: anxiety and stress levels have risen, and well-being has suffered.

As we think about how to move forward in a way that promotes healing and recovery for every one of us — as individuals, as communities, and as a country —I have found it valuable to reflect on what we might learn from the work we’ve been supporting here at Hershey [No. 21 on The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list in 2020] to help children thrive. Indeed, Hershey’s Heartwarming Project was created to help kids and teens thrive in this era of increased stress, anxiety, mental health challenges, and social isolation that young people have been facing in recent years. What we found was that by leaning into protective factors like fostering meaningful connections, promoting inclusion and teaching empathy, along with other social-emotional competencies, young peoples’ resilience and well-being improves over the long term. I’d venture to say we all could use more of that these days.

Our values of Making a Difference and Togetherness, and a focus on giving children a chance at a brighter future, are part of who we are and who we’ve always been. That’s also why in late 2019, Hershey partnered with Crisis Text Line, the leading 24/7 confidential text service that connects anyone who needs support with a trained Crisis Counselor who is ready to listen, with empathy via text. Crisis Text Line has responded to over 1.1 million texter conversations this year with top issues including: depression, anxiety, relationships and school. On October 27, they saw their highest number of texter conversations ever — over 22,000 conversations started in one day (up from an average of about 3,300 per day in the month prior). According to texter survey data from about 20 percent of conversations, between October 28 and November 3, 44 percent of texters were under 18 years old, based on Crisis Text Line’s estimates. While they couldn’t vote in this election, there was an increase in anxiety and self-harm compared to usual levels during this time period.

What’s especially interesting is how Crisis Text Line works. Yes, it’s powered by technology and data—to make it easy to communicate via text and connect you with support when you need it most. But perhaps even more powerful is the magic behind the platform: human empathy. Crisis Text Line trains its thousands of volunteer Crisis Counselors to become empathy superstars — teaching them to listen actively, communicate with care, and show every texter, no matter what they’re going through, kindness and concern.

We’re excited to partner with the team at Crisis Text Line to share resources on how all of us, young and old, can move forward with empathy in the weeks and months ahead. I invite you to check out their great blog post and helpful tip sheet that breaks down how empathy begins with yourself and extends outward to your community, both in persona and online. I also encourage you to find safe and meaningful ways to foster authentic connections with co-workers, friends, family and neighbors in the weeks to come. And even companies and workplaces can show empathy by leading with care and concern to support employees’ varied experiences during these times — this has made all the difference here at Hershey this year.

While we may not know what lies ahead, one thing is certain: we could all use more empathy and connection as we move forward together.

Resources:

  • Empathy Blog & Tip Sheet
  • If you are in crisis or need support, text EMPATHY to 741741 to connect with a trained Crisis Counselor 24/7.
  • Other resources for parents, teens, and teachers are available at The Heartwarming Project page

Latest News

Juneteenth National Independence Day Act bill signing

House Passes — and Biden Signs — New Bill To Make Juneteenth a Federal Holiday

The U.S. House of Representatives has voted to designate Juneteenth as a federal holiday, one day after the Senate unanimously voted for its passage. President Biden quickly signed the bill into law on June 17, making this year’s Juneteenth the first national recognition of Black Independence Day in the United…

LGBTQ protection in schools

US Education Department Issues Statement Confirming Title IX Protects LGBTQ Students Against Discrimination

Following an executive order from President Joe Biden directing federal agencies to defend LGBTQ students against discrimination, the Education Department has issued an official statement saying that Title IX does indeed ensure equal protection for LGBTQ students under federal law. Jo Yurcaba of NBC News reported that the Department of…

Texas Governor Greg Abbott

Texas Governor Approves Bill Banning Discussions of Race and Racism Within State’s Schools

Texas lawmakers continue to astound with the number of racist, transphobic laws they are willing to try to write into law.  In the last few months alone, we’ve seen Texas lawmakers draft legislation that would penalize parents who support and help their transgender children access gender-affirming care with jail time…

Georgia Power, Georgia Power Foundation Invested More Than $20 Million To Help Meet Community Challenges in 2020

Originally published at southerncompany.com. Southern Company ranked No. 20 on The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list in 2021.   Georgia Power and the Georgia Power Foundation today released their annual Citizenship Report highlighting how the company, its employees and retirees gave back to Georgia communities last year, helping to build…

Toyota Financial Services Issues New Asset-Backed Green Bond, Highlighting Toyota’s Ongoing Commitment to Sustainability

Originally published at pressroom.toyota.com. Toyota Motor North America ranked No. 7 on The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list in 2021.   Toyota Financial Services (TFS) issued its latest Asset-Backed Green Bond, reinforcing the company’s longstanding commitment to the sale of environmentally friendly vehicles. Net proceeds from the $1.6…

ADP Recognized as a Customers’ Choice in 2021 Gartner Peer Insights ‘Voice of the Customer’

Originally published at mediacenter.adp.com. ADP ranked No. 8 on The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list in 2021.   Industry analyst firm Gartner recognized ADP as a Customers’ Choice with category distinctions in Midsize Enterprises and North America in its 2021 Gartner Peer Insights ‘Voice of the Customer’: Cloud HCM Suites…

Cigna building

Cigna and New York Life Expand Eligibility for ‘Brave of Heart Fund’ Grants Supporting Families of Healthcare Workers Who Lost Their Lives in the Fight Against COVID-19

Originally published at cigna.com. Cigna ranked No. 33 on The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list in 2021.   On June 17, the foundations of New York Life and Cigna announced that the Brave of Heart Fund, which provides monetary grants to the families of heroic health care workers…