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Celebrating Ombudsman Day with Our Workplace Confidants

Let’s say you have a work conflict to resolve and want confidential advice. Or maybe you’re looking for your next career move and you’re unsure of that next step. Or you need input on a crucial conversation. Regardless of the workplace dilemma, we want every Associate to have someone to talk to in an off-the-record, informal way. That’s the driving force behind The Mars Ombudsman Program.

Hear about our program from its founder, Victoria Mars, in her recent “No Limits” podcast with ABC. 

To celebrate the inaugural Ombudsman Day October 11, we’re spotlighting our North American Ombudsman team as they share all the ways they’re ready and waiting to help Associates!

Globally, we have seven Ombudsmen, including three in North America. This trio has a combined seven decades of service at Mars—making them highly qualified to counsel Associates—from our factory floor to senior leadership. 

Lorraine Medal, who’s spent seven of her 20 years with Mars as an Ombudsman, explains how the program offers Associates their own personal workplace coach. 

“If you’re interviewing for a new position, we can work on role playing,” Lorraine says. “If engagement at a particular site needs a boost, we can help dive into issues to improve it. Our ombudsmen are there for Associates whenever they need to vent, bounce ideas off of us—things like that.”

Ismail (Ish) Baki, our newest Ombudsman, explains that Associates have full faith in the program’s confidentiality.

“We’re bound to a strict code of ethics under the International Ombudsman Association (IOA). Those include independence, neutrality, informality and, of course, confidentiality,” Ish explains.  “For me to be an effective ombudsman, I have to live by that code. Trust is either given or earned, use me as a resource and let me prove myself to you.”

Last year alone, more than 2,000 Associates put their trust in our Ombudsmen to make a positive difference. Typically, they contact our Ombudsmen when they:

  • Want to talk or vent about a concern
  • Want confidentiality and an “off the record” conversation
  • Want to get a different perspective
  • Need a safe sounding board to identify or evaluate their options
  • Do not know where to take their concerns or need to get more information
  • Want to clarify company policies, practices, procedures or decisions
  • Present new ideas to improve the business

Isabel Calderon, an Ombudsman for 13 years, says the job is a privilege she doesn’t take lightly.

“A few years ago, we acquired a business in a country where it was legal for women and men to receive a different set of benefits,” she explains. “Several women reached out and I immediately looked into it. We’d only just acquired the business and weren’t aware of the disparity, but very quickly remedied the situation. Mutuality is one of our Five Principles and being able to safeguard those values is hugely important to me.”

The best corporations continue to look for ways to improve, and our Ombudsmen also help us understand what’s top of mind for Associates—identifying where we can do better. We’re proud to invest in our Associates and will always be there to help find the best solution. 

Want to learn more about our Obudsman Program? Contact us! Interested in learning more about what makes Mars such a great place to work? Take a look!