Praxis continues push to address child labor in chocolate industry

Shareholder advocacy |

Mutual fund family applauds Hershey for taking critical steps forward

In the spring of 2013, the Hershey Company announced its 21st Century Cocoa Plan overview, tying together many of its initiatives to improve communities connected to cocoa growing.

The chocolate industry’s history is riddled with problems related to child slavery on African cocoa bean farms. Everence, through its Praxis Mutual Funds, is actively working with chocolate companies to address the conditions that lead to forced child labor.

For the last three years, Praxis has co-led shareholders in working with Hershey – one of the world’s largest chocolatiers – to shape new solutions to this long-standing problem. As an outgrowth of these conversations and Hershey’s ongoing efforts to address these issues, shareholders are seeing the company take numerous critical steps forward, including:

  • Adding staff to its cocoa sustainability and responsible sourcing programs.
  • More visibly collaborating with other companies and governments to address the social side of cocoa.
  • Committing to source 100 percent certified (sustainable and child labor free) cocoa by 2020. Hershey is on pace to exceed 10 percent certified cocoa by the end of 2013, and 40 to 50 percent by the end of 2016.
  • Reaching more farmers in West Africa through Hershey’s CocoaLink and Learn to Grow programs, helping to improve farmer livelihoods and attentiveness to social issues, as well as helping farmers receive certification from certifying organizations.

Certified cocoa meets comprehensive sustainability standards to protect the environment, people and communities. Hershey intends to use a third-party certification system to ensure its cocoa is grown sustainably and without the use of forced and child labor. As a major chocolate company, Hershey is helping to move the world cocoa market to higher social and environmental standards and transparency.

Active shareholders play a critical role in helping companies focus on important social, environmental and governance concerns – which is why Praxis and Everence continue to engage chocolate companies on the issue of child labor.

About Praxis Mutual Funds and Everence

Praxis Mutual Funds, advised by Everence Capital Management, is a leading faith-based, socially responsible family of mutual funds designed to help people and groups integrate their finances with faith values. To learn more, visit

Everence helps individuals, organizations and congregations integrate finances with faith through a national team of advisors and representatives. Everence offers banking, insurance and financial services with community benefits and stewardship education. To learn more, visit or call (800) 348-7468.

Author Everence staff


As of June 30, 2013, the Praxis Growth Index Fund had invested 0.24 percent of its assets in The Hershey Corporation. Fund holdings are subject to change. To obtain holdings as of the most previous quarter, visit