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Unlocking Opportunities for Women

Mars ‘Full Potential’ Platform to Advance Gender Equality

In the world we want tomorrow, society is inclusive. And women are reaching their Full Potential. That’s why we’re acting now to advance gender equality in our workplaces, in the marketplace and in communities where we source raw materials.

Whether in the boardroom, in a retail shop or on the farm, the evidence is clear that unlocking opportunities for women bolsters communities, drives profitability and enhances value. Numerous studies demonstrate that enabling greater participation of women in businesses, communities and economies delivers measurable benefits. 

  • In the workplace, companies with more women board members, more women in senior leadership roles and gender-balanced teams perform better, according to research from McKinsey and the World Bank
  • In sourcing communities, women comprise nearly half of the global agricultural labor force, while also providing unpaid work caring for their families. The World Bank cites that when women earn an income, they typically reinvest up to 90 percent back into their families and communities. 
  • In the marketplace, women create and control more than a quarter of the world’s wealth — estimated at USD $20 trillion. More than 70% of brand purchasing decisions are made by women, and in emerging markets, research found that women operate more than 70% of the small-scale businesses where consumer goods are sold. 

And yet, women still face a range of barriers to reaching their full potential. Amid the COVID-19 crisis, those vulnerabilities are deepening — with job and income loss risks often coupled with increased family care responsibilities. The World Economic Forum reports that the time to close the gender gap has increased from 100 to 136 years due to COVID-19-related disruptions. Now more than ever, we need greater focus toward the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal No. 5 - Achieving Gender Equality & Empowering All Women and Girls, and a significant step up in collective efforts across workplaces, communities and the marketplace. 

The Full Potential Platform 

At Mars, we’re taking action to address the barriers women face — because gender equality fuels our ability to grow and thrive as a business and enables women across our value chain to reach their Full Potential. This work advances our Purpose, reinforces The Five Principles, delivers on our Inclusion & Diversity goals and drives us toward our Sustainable in a Generation Plan ambitions. 

Women have long played a powerful role in our history as a family-owned, privately held business, and their success is critical to our shared future. We believe everyone deserves the opportunity to reach their Full Potential, and this platform outlines our action on gender equity across our workplaces, sourcing communities and the marketplace.

In our workplaces, we are taking action with policies and practices to improve representation and Associate benefits while ensuring we continue to pay Associates equitably. For example, we are:

  • Aspiring to reach 100% gender-balanced business leadership teams across our global business. Gender-balanced is defined as 40-60% of any one ender in Leadership Teams with five or more Associates. Currently, 41% of Mars leaders are women and we have advanced the number of gender-balanced teams from 43 to 50% from 2020 to 2021. 
  • Remain committed to equal pay for male and female Associates across our global businesses. Last year we completed a comprehensive review of our pay practices that confirmed we pay our Associates equitably regardless of their gender. We will continue to review our pay practices to ensure we pay our Associates fairly and equitably, as part of our commitment to ensuring an inclusive environment that attracts and retains the strongest talent.
  • Improving a range of family support benefits including exploring ways to enhance parental leave in the U.S. and UK, as well as actively exploring ways to enhance parental leave support globally.
  • And we’re supporting Associates affected by domestic violence through an emergency assistance fund. The Banfield Pet Hospital's Better Together Fund includes grants that support Mars Veterinary Health Associates with emergency funding, including support for relocation or housing services. 

In communities where we source raw materials, we’re investing with a range of partners in long-term approaches to bolster women’s economic empowerment and access to opportunity by:

  • Expanding our global women’s empowerment partnership with CARE including a $10 million investment over the next five years to empower 50,000 people in cocoa sourcing communities, as well as an initial $5 million contribution to COVID response focused on women across five countries in cocoa, mint and fish supply chains. This work builds on five years of collaboration with CARE to strengthen women’s social and economic empowerment in West African cocoa-growing communities. 
  • Focusing on women’s social and economic empowerment through our Cocoa for Generations strategy and our Protecting Children Action Plan. Together with The Royal Tropical Institute of the Netherlands, we published an Empathy Report with new insights on empowerment opportunities for women and girls in cocoa communities. 
  • We’re investing more than $6.5 million in initiatives that include empowering women in coconut, vanilla and shea sourcing communities with the Livelihoods Fund for Family Farming and are reaching more than 4,500 women through self-help groups in mint sourcing communities in India through the Shubh Mint program. Additionally, we’ve partnered with the Sustainable Rice Platform to work with more than 800 women rice farmers in Thailand on good agricultural practices training, financial literacy and business skill support. 
  • Generating practical insights to drive action through the Farmer Income Lab. Mars founded this ‘think-do’ tank to identify what works to meaningfully improve farmer incomes — including more understanding of the critical role of women’s economic empowerment in community resilience and supply chain strengthening. 
  • We’re committed to spend USD 500 million with women-led suppliers by 2025. And we’re exploring new ways to better support training and innovation for women-owned businesses across our supply chain. 

In the marketplace where our goods and services are advertised and sold, we’re also taking action by: 

  • Working to remove gender bias and negative stereotypes in our advertising in partnership with the UN Women’s Unstereotype Alliance (where we are a founding member and part of the executive leadership team), and increasing access to opportunity by mandating that agency bids must include a female director.
  • Reviewing our advertising annually to identify and reduce gender bias, partnering with the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media. We are using these insights to identify where we can improve, as well as track our performance over time.
  • Taking action with our brands, bringing attention to topics such as motherhood, gender equity, and intersectional representation. Ben’s Original™ is inviting everyone around the table, featuring single mothers and their families as well as challenging norms such as who is doing the cooking. In the UK, MALTESERS® is shining light on maternal mental health through their #TheMassiveOvershare #LoveBeatsLikes campaigns with over 75,000 visits to the support website for information and resources to date. DOVE®/GALAXY® is championing women’s empowerment through an anthem written and performed by women in Middle East & Africa and invited a majority female team to develop and produce its campaign in China
  • Building skills for entrepreneurs, including women, in emerging markets, building on the success and incorporating learnings from Project Maua in Kenya. 

Partners and Collaborations 

We’re working closely with a range of expert external partners to advise and guide our work to unlock women’s Full Potential and joining forces with others in coalition. We are:

  • Committed to the CEO Action Pledge for Diversity and Inclusion to prioritize and drive accountability on inclusive workplaces, including gender. This work is focused on creating space for open conversations, expanding unconscious bias education, sharing both good practice and failures, and engaging Boards of Directors to accelerate action. 
  • A signatory of the EMPOWER Pledge to support women’s advancement to leadership positions in the private sector across G-20 countries — through setting strong internal targets, applying a gender lens to leadership opportunities and fostering an inclusive culture. Raising awareness and progressing our efforts as CEO Signatory of UN Women’s Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs). The WEPs offer clear guidance and collaborative forums to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment in the workplace, marketplace and community. 
  • Joined the global WeConnect network and sit on the Leadership Advisory Council in the EU to support our procurement teams around the world as we progress our gender equity ambitions.