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Black History Month 2021: Driving Meaningful Change

By Darryl Farrow, Head of Equity, Inclusion & Diversity at Mars.

In the world we want tomorrow, society is inclusive. February marks the observance of Black History Month across the U.S. and Canada. As a global business with more than 130,000 Associates, we have a responsibility to ensure our people are valued, respected and encouraged to be their unique selves. As a business we’re taking the time to reflect on the significance of this month, honor those who have pushed us forward, and continue to act together to create the world we want to see.  

The racial awakening that took place in the U.S., and around the world, in the summer of 2020 challenged business to play a larger role in addressing racial inequities. During this time we listened to our Associates, heard their lived experiences, and accelerated Mars’ ongoing commitment to inclusion and diversity (I&D) in our workplace and communities. And as we celebrate our Black Associates, their families, and communities — it’s critical to also recognize the role business plays in driving systemic change.

As a global business, we’re accelerating our commitment to I&D in our workplaces and communities. As part of this, we’re focused on harnessing diverse groups of Associates and leaders. This includes workforce representation. Our ambition includes increasing racial minority representation among our management population in our Mars consumer packaged goods (CPG) businesses in the United States by 40%. We will also promote expanded opportunities for all racial minorities across our total workforce.

Our I&D strategy is ambitious, and while we continue to make progress, we know we need the help of partners to educate and strengthen our commitments. As a leader of I&D in North America at Mars, I understand the impact our work has on all regions, and the critical role our strategic partners play in our overall I&D journey. 

  • Our partnership with PolicyLink, a U.S. research and action institute committed to advancing racial and economic equity, centers on educating Mars around racial equity, analyzing our People & Organization (P&O) practices and policies for racially equitable outcomes, and external advocacy around advancing racial equity.
  • Through the NAACP Legal Defense Fund (LDF) (NAACP LDF) we’re focusing on equal opportunity for quality education and addressing the disparate impact of COVID-19 on communities of color and Black-owned businesses. Mars’ partnership includes funding to support to LDF’s scholarship program for undergraduate students.
  • On Martin Luther King Jr. Day 2021, we announced our partnership with The Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change “The King Center.” The King Center’s mission is to prepare global citizens to create a more just, humane and peaceful world using Dr. King’s nonviolent philosophy and methodology (Nonviolence365®). Mars was a sponsor of the 2021 MLK holiday observance and we look forward to deepening our partnership throughout the year.  
  • This year Mars also joined a cohort of companies in the W.K. Kellogg Foundation Expanding Equity Program, which is designed to help companies at all stages of their racial equity work by providing tools, knowledge and human-centered approaches for advancing a racial equity strategy.
  • Mars joined McKinsey’s Black Leadership Academy which is composed of capability-building programs that to equip Black leaders with the capabilities, mindsets, behaviors, and network needed to achieve their professional aspirations.

While we take Black History Month as a moment to reflect, it’s our commitments and partnerships that create the movement needed in our shared fight for racial equity 365 days a year. By working together, we can continue to drive equitable opportunities with meaningful and measurable change. We ask that you join us in turning words into action, and together, we can continue to build the world we want tomorrow.

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