A group of leaders at Mars discuss the importance of inclusion & diversity over a video call.

Turning Meaningful Inclusion & Diversity Conversations into Action

Originally published on LinkedIn by Ibtehal Fathy, Global Inclusion & Diversity Officer at Mars.

As the Global Inclusion & Diversity Officer at Mars, I am honored to lead the charge for I&D as we take the company into the future, a future where we are united by our differences — both visible and invisible. Sustained change requires sustained action. Action requires education, allyship, analysis of our processes and procedures and a commitment to deconstructing and adjusting our systems, where needed. And the time for action is now.

At Mars, we’re diverse in our backgrounds, perspectives and cultures, but we’re all driven to make an impact on our business and to create the world we want tomorrow. To achieve this, we must ensure diverse voices are truly valued and heard. This requires more than just providing a seat at the table or demonstrating tolerance. This is about true acceptance and, most importantly, inclusivity. Diversity alone without inclusivity won’t work, which is why we stress inclusion and diversity rather than the reverse.  

Last week at Mars, we hosted our first I&D week to mark the rollout of our new global I&D strategy and I was moved by the week’s events. We heard from some incredible thought-provoking speakers, learned from our own Associates (we say “Associates” versus “employees”) and came together as a community to focus on I&D. We worked to empower our Associates to be champions of I&D at Mars, as well as within the communities where they live and work. We want Associates to be proud of Mars and to take their work experiences out into the world. 

While our commitment to I&D is long-standing, through our new global strategy we have fine-tuned our efforts and are bringing the organization together to achieve goals around inclusion, gender balance and workforce representation.  

Our inaugural I&D week was the next step in our journey and set the stage for what’s to come. It was an excellent opportunity to reveal our strategy and show our Associates around the world firsthand how their roles determine its success. From hosting panel discussions and launching our Full Potential campaign to hearing from the Board, the Mars Leadership Team and compelling testimonials from leaders of our own Associate Resource Groups (ARGs), the week was full of thoughtful discussion and transparency.

We gathered an esteemed group of leaders from Mars and other organizations for a series of four panel discussions designed to challenge our thinking and to give us ideas about how we can make a difference in and outside of Mars. Thank you so much to all our incredible speakers!

  • Lorenna Buck, Partner at Boston Consulting Group, and a long-time advocate for I&D, who helped Associates consider how I&D drives business results.
  • David Kidder and Mandisa Turner from Bionic, an enterprise innovation platform, who challenged us to think about inclusivity’s impact on a growth mindset.
  • Andres Tapia, author and Senior Client Partner at Korn Ferry, who joined Brian Garish from Banfield Pet Hospital in a discussion about the benefits inclusive organizations bring.
  • Michael McAfee, President and CEO, and Angela Glover Blackwell, Founder in Residence at Policylink, a US research and action institute advancing racial and economic equity, who joined Darryl Farrow and Kristin Colber-Baker from our team in a conversation about the role business plays in creating an equitable society. 

We also hosted several panel discussions with senior leaders and Associates including a session on allyship and one with leaders from our Associates Resource groups, which was particularly moving for me. Hearing from Associates, who use their own personal time to invest in their colleagues and our organization, was incredibly powerful. Their stories about the support they have found at work, what they learned from helping coworkers cope with racial tensions and how their ARG interactions provided different perspectives they otherwise may not have considered, was incredibly powerful. 

Our I&D strategy is ambitious, and our ambitions are matched by our actions. While our strategy and goals are important, change won’t happen overnight. We are committed to making a significant, long-term impact, which will happen step by step. This is an evolution – one where we are turning words into action. I am inspired and motivated by what lies ahead and the enormous amount of possibility and am looking forward to working with our Associates and partners along the way.

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