We recognize that our actions can make a real and lasting difference in the lives of many people and their pets.
Mars already has a number of major programs to improve socioeconomic impacts within specific areas in our value chain. These include the Sustainable Cocoa Initiative, support for the African Orphan Crops Consortium and our commitments to purchase 100% of cocoa, coffee, tea, palm oil and fish from certified or sustainable sources.
We are now seeking to develop a broader vision for socioeconomic impacts that these and other, new initiatives will contribute toward, applying the same scientific rigor we have to our environmental impacts.
Unlike for climate change there is no single, credible data source on which we can base our decisions in this area. Socioeconomic impacts rarely have a single cause or agreed definition and are often interconnected so they cannot be tackled in isolation. This is particularly true in agricultural supply chains. Respecting these complexities, we are identifying areas where we can have significant impacts for people across our value chain.
We are using several external tools and data sources to inform this process, including:
Alongside our work to quantify and prioritize our socioeconomic impacts, we remain committed to partnering with our stakeholders and harnessing our collective skills to continue improving our products and the way we do business. Below we summarize our socioeconomic impacts on our major stakeholder groups.
Human Rights and Supplier Relationships
We respect human rights throughout our value chain and recognize the principles of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights and the International Labour Organization's Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work.
We work to reflect these principles, as well as our own Five Principles, and to improve livelihoods in our supply chain by sourcing through third-party certification programs, and by applying the Mars Supplier Code of Conduct and risk management program. Our policy on child labor in the cocoa supply chain is available here.
We purchase goods and services from thousands of supplier companies worldwide, ranging from large multinationals to small farming cooperatives. The money we spend with these suppliers supports employment in their companies and continues to circulate through the economy to their employees, suppliers and communities.
Impacts on the Communities Supplying our Raw Materials
We are determined to make a positive difference in the lives of the farming communities that provide some of our most critical raw materials. As well as sourcing these ingredients through third-party certification programs, we are investing in on-the-ground initiatives such as our flagship Vision for Change program to support cocoa farmers in Côte d’Ivoire, and our pilot programs in coffee-growing communities in four countries.
This work has a significant economic impact on farming communities by boosting incomes, lifting farmers out of poverty and creating wealth that supports the wider local economy. For example, Vision for Change has the potential to help 150,000 cocoa farmers in Côte d’Ivoire boost their productivity and, by extension, their incomes.
Our Relationships with Associates
Mars offers rewarding careers with a principled company that believes in more than just the pursuit of profit. It is fundamental to our business values to communicate directly with Associates and work together with them to resolve any queries or concerns. At the same time, we respect and work with unions and work councils in compliance with local national laws. On occasion, Associates may prefer to speak up anonymously, and they can do so through our Ombudsman program.
The wages we pay Associates represent one of our greatest direct economic impacts. For all Associates, our policy is for total compensation to be in the top 25 percent compared with sector and local levels. We perform annual benchmarks to check this is the case.
Impacts on the Communities where We Operate
Mars is committed to making a difference in our local communities and contributing to their health and prosperity. The Mars, Incorporated Community Engagement Strategy describes our approach to supporting healthier communities, a better world for pets and a greener planet. Mars Associates worldwide take great pride in their efforts to make a difference in these three priority areas.
Consumers, Health and Nutrition
Mars provides many millions of tasty and affordable treats and meals to hundreds of millions of people and their pets. As a leading food company guided by our Five Principles, we are committed to helping people and their pets enjoy our products as part of a healthy lifestyle. We continuously search for ways to improve the nutritional content of our products without compromising taste, convenience, quality or – importantly – affordability.
Relationships with Pets and Pet Advocates
We help owners to realize the benefits of pet ownership, and to understand that having a pet is a big responsibility. We work, on our own and with others, to ensure our products, services and scientific research help make the world a better place for pets and ensure they can play a positive role in their local community.