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A right-wing activist tried to gatecrash a Hershey’s shareholder meeting with inane anti-trans bigotry. The CEO was having none of it

Nick Duffy May 18, 2020
Hershey's chocolate bars are shown on July 16, 2014 in Chicago, Illinois.

Hershey's chocolate bars are shown on July 16, 2014 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo Illustration by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Hershey’s boss Michele Buck pushed back after being confronted by an anti-LGBT activist at a shareholder meeting.

The Hershey Company CEO had been taking questions during the firm’s open virtual annual shareholder meeting when she was confronted over the its support for the Human Rights Campaign, the largest LGBT+ rights group in the US.

The person asking the question was Justin Danhof, who works for the right-wing, anti-LGBT+ National Center for Public Policy Research.

He complained: “Hershey is one of the leading sponsors of the Human Rights Campaign. HRC is perhaps the nation’s leading opponent of religious liberty.

“HRC threatens and organises boycotts when states seek to enact laws protecting the right of people to act according to their faith or to use a bathroom in privacy that matches their DNA.”

Danhof continued: “At a time when our nation needs to pull together as one to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic and reopen the economy, will you reconsider your funding of this bigoted, anti-religious organisation that works to tear Americans apart?”

Hershey’s boss ‘proud’ of support for LGBT+ community.

While some CEOs might have attempted to assuage an aggrieved questioner with some fluff about family values, Buck was uncompromising.

She made clear: “Inclusion and diversity are incredibly important values to us here at the Hershey Company. They are important not only to our culture but also to our business.”

Hershey Company chocolate bars are offered for sale
Hershey’s chocolate bars are offered for sale (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Buck added: “I’m really proud of our track record in supporting the LGBT community and our employees and customers who identify with the LGBT community.

“We continue to be very focused on making all the best decisions we believe possible to foster inclusion and diversity across the company.”

Despite being shut down in no uncertain terms, Danhof seems to have think that the exchange went his way — with the NCPPR uploading a recording and putting out a release.

Danhof complained: “As long as it continues to fill HRC’s coffers with its investors’ hard-earned money, Hershey is 100 per cent complicit in these vile, bigoted and reprehensible actions. If the company had any shame, it would end its funding of this extremist organisation now.”

PinkNews has contacted the NCPPR to clarify whether it or Danhof genuinely owns shares in Hershey Company.

Anti-LGBT+ activists have taken to protesting shareholder meetings.

Using traditionally-dull shareholder meetings to collar CEOs has become a popular trend for anti-LGBT activists.

In March, Disney CEO Bob Chapek was confronted by another ultra-evangelical campaigner during his first annual shareholder meeting.

However, it’s unclear what either interaction actually gained — aside from putting both company’s support for LGBT+ equality firmly on the record.

More: boss, ceo, Hershey Company

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