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Mars Leaders say: "Let’s do business - with purpose”

Heads of Chocolate and Food segments speak out about business values and diversity


On both sides of the Atlantic last week, Mars leaders took to the stage to discuss the importance of running a business guided by strong principles. From a conference hall on the outskirts of London in the UK to a Washington, DC venue that attracted some of industry’s most powerful women, the message was clear: if you want to be successful, do business with purpose.

In the UK, Fiona Dawson, Global President of Mars Food, told the Balanced Business Forum of a priority for Mars: “I am focused in my role on expanding diversity and inclusion across the board. If women were equal to men, they could deliver growth of £6 billion to the UK economy!” The Balanced Business Forum claims to be the world's first gender balanced leadership conference, and supports leaders who want make sure their business prioritizes people as well as profit.

Meanwhile, in Washington, DC, Mars Chocolate North America President Tracey Massey spoke to business leaders at Fortune’s ‘Most Powerful Women Summit’, an event that gathers together preeminent women in business, government and philanthropy for inspirational talks – and this year welcomed the First Lady of the United States Michelle Obama. Drawing on the conference theme of ‘Leading with Purpose,’ Tracey addressed the food industry’s responsibility to consumers by saying: “Consumers want to know the company behind what they're buying."

Studies have shown that gender diversity in leadership drives business growth, and, combined with a commitment to Mutuality, is a reason this has been a priority for Mars Incorporated, and a hallmark of our business around the world. In fact, 40% of managers at Mars Incorporated today are women--a number that has been steadily growing year-on-year. As Fiona said with both pride and humility, “our efforts are paying off but there's a long road ahead of us.”

She continued: “When I talk about diversity and inclusion, I mean something very specific. By diversity I mean embracing difference; and by inclusion I mean creating an environment where people feel they belong.

“For women, especially, this can be about flexibility and creating a workplace where we can be successful. But it’s also about business changing and continuing to evolve. Embracing new leadership styles, meeting the demands of a workforce who will change and require different support depending on their life-stage. Everybody is different and leaders need to understand that. I see individuality not as a threat, but as something to harness.”

Tracey added that for her, ‘purpose’ also means taking pride in the pleasure that our products bring to people’s lives, while taking seriously our responsibility to encourage people to enjoy them as part of a healthy diet: “We need to make sure we label our products and be very transparent about what’s in them. You can’t dictate what people eat, but you can make sure they’re very clear on what they’re putting into their bodies.”

Leaders like Fiona and Tracey, along with thousands of Mars Associates around the world, help to create the kind of work environment that has recently been recognized by Great Place to Work® as one of the World’s Best Multinational Workplaces. We were named number 20 on a list of 25 multinational companies this year – an achievement in no small part down to our continued efforts to be a business with purpose.