CEO of Mars on Navigating Challenging Times
The following comes from a letter that was delivered to all Mars Associates on August 12, 2020.
In January, we kicked off the year with tremendous momentum.
Clearly, none of us anticipated the impact COVID-19 would have on millions of people, or the recent terrible examples of social and racial injustice that have occurred in the U.S. – and generated a movement that has resonated around the world.
We’ve had to shift quickly to new ways of working, address unprecedented challenges and deal with a great deal of ambiguity. This year has taken its toll on all of us. And, yet, what has shone through is resilience, hope and the care we have for each other as a team. That has truly inspired me!
I’m so proud of the way we’ve come together during these challenging times. The Five Principles have continued to be at the heart of all we do.
In the face of COVID-19, our priority has been to do everything in our power to protect the health and wellbeing of Mars Associates. That included trying to provide peace of mind by putting pay and benefit continuity principles in place. We have continued to provide income and benefits to all Associates, even those who needed time off due to illness, quarantine, temporary site closures or reductions in working hours. I’m grateful that the financial Freedom and all the Principles we have as a Family business allowed us to do this.
At the same time, Associates across Mars stepped up to do our part to flatten the infection curve and perform the remarkable by safely continuing to provide the products and services that our consumers, clients and pets count on.
In the broader community, we also made a difference, whether that was our collective donations of cash and products that totaled over $26 million, or the acts of generosity and kindness demonstrated by Associates that helped lift up people and pets during a dark time.
Beyond the near-term implications of COVID-19, we also have not lost sight of the future we want to build for ourselves, society and the planet. Chronic issues of climate change, plastics, an economy that is leaving people behind and systemic racial injustice which has surfaced so glaringly must be addressed, and we’re committed to doing our part.
We’re stepping up our inclusion and diversity efforts.
The recent display of social injustice in the U.S. has caused widespread anger, sadness and fear. It has also spurred emotional conversations within our business. We have a lot of work to do to as an organization, but we are committed to making sure our work environment is one where every Associate feels valued and respected. Beyond that, we want to contribute to a more inclusive society.
That means we’re accelerating our work in several areas:
- Increasing diversity in our talent and leadership pipeline and setting meaningful targets for improvement in representation by gender and race.
- Expanding resources to support our Inclusion & Diversity ambitions, including building a larger and dedicated Inclusion & Diversity team, strengthening our talent processes, and expanding training and education resources, such as the global rollout of Inclusion & Diversity fundamentals training for all of us as Mars Associates.
- Improving diversity across our marketing, advertising, sourcing and supplier communities.
- Evolving our Uncle Ben’s brand.
We’ve continued to be deliberate in our pursuit of sustainability.
We’ve recently published our Sustainable in a Generation Plan 2019 Scorecard, and while there is still so much work to do, we are making great progress. Some highlights include:
- We reduced our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions while growing our business. Few companies have demonstrated these results. Since 2015, we’ve reduced overall GHG emissions by 3.5%.
- We helped to put more than 169,000 people on the path to meaningful improvement—reaching 25% more people over 2018. As an example, we supported 17,000 women in our cocoa and mint supply chains with economic empowerment programs that are boosting their savings and entrepreneurial skills.
- We made incredible progress toward our goal of putting 1 billion more healthy meals on dinner tables through our Food business—already delivering 991 million.
- We launched our 2025 Sustainable Plastic Packaging Plans and we’re working toward developing packaging that is reusable, recyclable or compostable, while decreasing virgin plastic use.
Performance without purpose is meaningless. Purpose without performance isn’t possible.
This a defining moment for companies that say they are driven by values. I’m confident the actions we’ve taken over the last seven months are consistent with our own purpose that: The world we want tomorrow starts with how we do business today.
Grant F. Reid
Office of the President/CEO