We recognize that our actions can make a real and lasting difference in the lives of many people and their pets. This can be as a direct result of working with us or from the way in which our products are made and used. It can also be an indirect outcome of our scientific research, of our efforts to improve labor standards and livelihoods in our supply chain, or of our work to make the world a better place for pets. In addition, the salaries we pay our Associates and payments to suppliers continue to circulate and strengthen economies as they spend and invest it.
We are 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.
In 2011, we purchased 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.
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.
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.
Over 9,600 Associates volunteered more than 37,000 hours with 290+ organizations through the Mars Volunteer Program in 2011, to help boost prosperity and wellbeing in their local communities. In addition, 80 Associates representing every business segment and region participated in Mars Ambassador Program assignments, working with 16 partner organizations.
Mars provides many millions of tasty and affordable treats and meals to hundreds of millions of people and their pets, generating net sales of more than US$30 billion in 2011. 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.