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Full Potential Mars Platform on Gender

Mars Launches ‘Full Potential,’ Platform to Drive Gender Equity Ambitions

Published by Lisa Manley, Vice President, Sustainability at Mars 

I’ve been an advocate for gender equity for years. To me, the evidence is clear—whether in the board room, in a retail shop or on the farm—unlocking opportunities for women bolsters communities, drives profitability and enhances value. And yet, women all over the world still face a wide range of barriers to reaching their full potential.  

We know that COVID-19 is deepening those vulnerabilities; for example, lost jobs and income is often coupled with increased family care responsibilities for women. Now more than ever, companies need to take action to advance gender equity.  

I’m proud to work for a company taking action to address the barriers women face, fueling our ability to thrive as a business and enabling women in our workplaces, in sourcing communities and in the marketplace to reach higher. Our platform—with foundational goals and milestones—is called Full Potential. 


Our policies and practices aim to improve representation and specific benefits and ensure we pay men and women equitably. For example, we are:  

  • Aspiring to reach 100% gender-balanced business leadership teams across our global business.  
  • Advancing the Mars approach to flexible working beyond the pandemic. By encouraging Associates to choose the environment that has the optimal conditions for the work or task at hand, we will drive greater speed and agility. Guided by our Responsibility principle, our Associates will feel empowered to focus on outcomes and value creation. Guided by our Efficiency principle we will clarify what tasks are ideally carried out in-person vs. remote, guiding new behaviors and team norms. 
  • Committed to equal pay for male and female Associates across our global businesses. Last year we completed a comprehensive review of our pay practices that confirmed we pay our Associates equitably regardless of their gender. We will continue to review our pay practices to ensure we pay our Associates fairly and equitably as part of our commitment to ensuring an inclusive environment that attracts and retains the strongest talent. 


We’re investing with a range of partners in long-term approaches to bolster women’s economic empowerment and access to opportunity in communities where we source raw materials, by:  

  • Expanding our global partnership with CARE, including a $10 million investment over the next five years to empower 50,000 people in cocoa sourcing communities, as well as an initial $5 million contribution to COVID-19 response focused on women across five countries in cocoa, mint and fish supply chains.  
  • Focusing on women’s social and economic empowerment through our Cocoa for Generations strategy and our Protecting Children Action Plan, The Royal Tropical Institute of the Netherlands (KIT) is supporting our initiatives with new insights on empowerment opportunities for women and girls in cocoa communities. 
  • Investing more than $4.5 million in initiatives that include empowering women in coconut, vanilla and shea sourcing communities with the Livelihoods Fund for Family Farming. We’re reaching more than 4,500 women through self-help groups in mint sourcing communities in India through the Shubh Mint program, and supporting more than 800 women rice farmers in Thailand with expanded business skills and training through the Sustainable Rice Platform. 


In the marketplace where our goods and services are advertised and sold, we’re also taking action by: 

  • Working to remove gender bias and negative stereotypes in our advertising as a founding member with UN Women’s Unstereotype Alliance and increasing access to opportunity by mandating that agency bids include a female director
  • Annually reviewing our advertising to identify and reduce gender bias in partnership with the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media. We’re using these insights to identify where we can improve, as well as track our performance over time. 
  • Leveraging our brands to raise awareness and support women in sourcing communities. Since 2016, our DOVE® chocolate brand has activated successful cause marketing campaigns in partnership with Walmart, CVS, Kroger and Amazon, unlocking more than $1 million to support CARE’s work with women in West African cocoa communities.   

We’re joining forces with expert external partners to advise and guide our work. This includes committing to the CEO Action Pledge for Diversity and Inclusion, signing the Empower Pledge to support women’s advancement in leadership positions across G20 countries and UN Women’s Empowerment Principles, as well as chairing the UK Women’s Business Council.  

Women at Mars have played a powerful role in our history as a family-owned, privately held business. And their success is critical to our shared future. I believe our Full Potential platform can play a part in creating a more equitable world for women everywhere. I hope many will join us to keep breaking down barriers and helping all women to reach their full potential!  

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