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Enabling people to thrive by increasing farmer income, respecting human rights and unlocking opportunities for women

Collaboration is Critical to Promoting and Respecting Human Rights in the Value Chain of Tomorrow

We believe that the global economy—and global businesses like ours—needs to do much more to ensure that work empowers people. We believe we can, and should, play a role in increasing opportunity for people to thrive in the workplaces and communities we touch.

At Mars, we seek to promote and respect human rights across our entire value chain. From factory workers in Chicago to farmers in Cote D’Ivoire, we believe everyone touched by our business should be treated with dignity, fairness and respect.

Our work is guided by Mars’ global Human Rights Policy and Protecting Children Action Plan, in line with the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. Our global human rights team works across our business and consults with third-party experts and civil society groups to advance our work. Our Human Rights Steering Committee, comprised of Mars senior executives, reviews our progress and we report annually to our Board of Directors. 

We believe collaboration is critical to making progress in addressing complex and systemic human rights issues. We work with governments, businesses and communities to advance shared goals across our value chain - to Make More Responsible Decisions, Together.

Our Human Rights Framework 

In the 80 countries where we do business, and across our value chain, we are making progress promoting and respecting human rights—but we also face many challenges.  

Drawing on the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, we have developed the CARE Framework as a step-by-step tool to guide our human rights decisions and action. We’ve developed a short overview of the framework to share with other practitioners, as well. We use this framework to generate Human Rights Action Plans for priority raw material supply chains such as our Thai Fish Supply Chain Human Rights Action Plan. The framework focuses on four areas:

  • Commit to policies and practices, and build governance and capabilities.
  • Assess impacts across our value chain, actively listen to people.
  • Respond as we seek to prevent, address and remediate impacts in collaboration with industry, government and civil society.
  • Engage transparently, sharing our successes and challenges.

Our Human Rights Programs include:

  • Responsible Workplace: We work to create and maintain workplaces where our 130,000+ Associates can thrive. This includes seeking to ensure that their human rights are respected and that we are engaged with the communities in which we operate.
  • As part of this program we:
    • Train Associates on our global Guide to Ethics & Compliance, which explains our human rights values and expectations.
    • Ensure all Associates have access to a local Ombudsman to whom they can confidentially and anonymously report workplace issues.
    • Provide independent auditors with access to all of our workplaces to assess our human rights performance and ensure that any issues are addressed. 
  • Next Generation Supplier Program: We want to work with partners who share our principle-based approach to business. We rely on thousands of first-tier suppliers around the world to keep our business thriving—they supply us with critical materials such as ingredients for our products as well as essential goods and services.
    • In 2011, we launched our Supplier Code of Conduct. The Mars Supplier Code of Conduct articulates our social, ethical and environmental expectations for first-tier suppliers. It contains globally aligned standards and is rooted in international law.
    • Our Next Generation Supplier Program is our enhanced approach to first-tier supplier sustainability. We continue to align all of our suppliers with our social, environmental and ethical expectations through our Supplier Code of Conduct. We assess the sustainability performance and existing social compliance audit results of prioritized suppliers using the EcoVadis online platform, leveraging recognized third –party tools while also unlocking increased visibility and broader insights. We support strategic suppliers, as they advance performance through a new, longer-term collaboration model focused on driving systemic change and engagement of workers.
  • Human Rights in Sustainable Sourcing: We are seeking to advance respect for human rights in our extended agricultural supply chains, which reach past our first-tier suppliers all the way to the farm or fishery level. Some of the most serious human rights issues in our value chain may be at the farthest ends of our agricultural supply chains, where our influence and visibility is typically low. Learn more in our Human Rights Position Statement.

We have worked with experts to identify salient human rights issues present across the industry in the extended supply chains of a number of our key agricultural materials, including cocoa, fish and palm oil. In consultation with human rights experts, and a thorough review of publicly-available data, we have identified forced labor and child labor as the human rights issues that may pose the most severe risk to people in our extended supply chains. Even as we work to advance respect for all rights, we place special emphasis on these salient issues and we prioritize actions that reach the most vulnerable people.

As we seek to understand the nature, extent and root causes of these and other human rights issues in these supply chains, we are collaborating with others who share our principles, and we are investing in joint efforts to accomplish our shared goals. Collaboration is critical to advancing respect for human rights at this level in extended supply chains, as sustained progress is only possible when industry, government, civil society and communities take action.

Industry Action

We are taking action in our business and supply chains to advance the Consumer Goods Forum’s (CGF) Priority Industry Principles on forced labor. Mars led the development of these principles as co-chair of the CGF’s forced labor taskforce, as we believe industry-wide focus and action on this issue is urgently needed. The Principles align with our existing human rights approach at Mars, and they provide us and others with an opportunity to deepen and strengthen our work as we seek to identify and address forced labor. We look forward to using our voice and our actions to drive progress on this issue together with others in industry who share this goal. 

Global, Strategic Partner: Verité

We are proud of our global, strategic partnership with leading human rights and labor nonprofit Verité. Our long-term collaboration aims to advance respect for human rights and improve the lives of the most vulnerable workers in global supply chains relevant to our business. Building on our existing human rights strategy, Verité is advising and supporting work across our own operations with our first-tier suppliers and in our extended supply chain. We work across three pillars: Action, Insight and Dialogue. Read more from our announcement at the Skoll World ForumThe Management System Roadmap is an example of one of the tools we have co-created, to help suppliers understand and improve systems to monitor, address and prevent human rights risks in extended supply chains.

Learn more about our partnership with Verité.