There once was a man in Pennsylvania. An ordinary man that made chocolates. This man may not have made the best chocolates in the world. In fact, the Mexicans, Belgians and the Swiss are far better at the art of chocolate making.
But the legacy of this man went far beyond chocolate. He made a difference to a whole community.
This man’s name was Milton Hershey. He lived in Hershey Pennsylvania. And, yes, he made Hershey chocolates.
Why talk about Milton Hershey?
Mr. Hershey was a businessman – the founder of the Hershey Chocolate Company. And he was a far-sighted philanthropist. Employees of his company had access to schools, hospitals and other community services that were all paid for by the Hershey Chocolate company. In fact, Hershey, Pennsylvania is known as a “Company Town”.
Milton Hershey can be remembered as a person who invested in many aspects of a community. From our perspective, we salute Milton S. Hershey for his investments in the schooling of Hershey employees and others.
Not a day goes by in South Africa where someone is not pointing to, what they say is, a failed state.
- Government is expected to build more schools
- Government is expected to improve the quality of education
- Government must….
- Government must….
For the last eighteen, Growth Institute has advocated that corporates should take more initiatives and replicate the efforts of Milton Hershey in Pennsylvania. Although there are many CSI projects about, not many (if any) come close to the efforts of Milton S. Hershey.
Some say that a dream of our own, South African, “Hersheyville” is preposterous because it does not befit corporates to be that kind. Others argue that it is simply impossible. A third group emphatically states that one should not step in where Government seems to fail. They argue that stepping in worsens the perceived education crisis instead of improving on it. Of course a fourth group argues that such an idea is a colonial vestige of Apartheid and that such heresy needs to be eradicated to preserve “our Africanness”.
A Breath of Fresh Air
The criticism against efforts such as that of Milton Hershey almost let us give up on the hope that there is still hope for our weak education system. Then, yesterday happened. We had an appointment with a prospective new client. This client is a big international corporation and we were stunned by the fact that they have been working on the same ideas as did Milton Hershey. This prospective client does not make chocolates. They are a big engineering firm who took up a challenge to make a difference in this country.
Being involved in a school and having built three academies from scratch in a relatively short time, signals that this company takes the upliftment of communities very seriously indeed.
They are what Francis Hesselbein refers to, a circular company. In other words, this company exists in a community. They recruit employees from the community and educate those in the community that do not have a fair chance in a failing school system.
Effect on Sustainability
In less than three years, this company started to see an improvement in the quality of their own workforce. Staff is expected to participate in training program, and staff is expected to pass course well above the required pass mark for such course.
Those close to retirement age are given an understudy to make sure that years of knowledge is transferred. In other words, a legacy of experience in ploughed back into the minds and actions of the next generation of workers.
In addition, workers are constantly ready to move into senior roles because the company spent their Skills Development Levy wisely so that succession plans hardly are scuppered by the non-availability of those who need to step into vacant positions.
In short, this company has built itself a sustainable pipeline to attract people that are willing and eager to learn and to make a difference in their own personal circumstances.
Thank you for your vision, Mr. Hershey