Stephen Badger, Mars Board Member, on Mutuality

Last week the Global Action Platform named Mars, Incorporated as the recipient of the first-of-its-kind “Global Shared Value Award” at the third annual Global Action Summit in Nashville, TN. Mars Board Member Stephen Badger received the award on behalf of the company, and he took the opportunity to talk about the Five Principles that guide the coporation, particularly Mutuality. The full text of his remarks are below.

My great grandfather had a powerful vision. The family today and Mars itself shares that vision and the conviction that Mutuality is the best way to do business.  And we’re looking for others who share this vision with whom we can partner to explore how to best to bring it to life.

"Thank you, Dr. Zakaria, and thank you to our hosts here at the Global Action Summit for this honor. I’m humbled and grateful for this recognition.  I’m grateful because it reinforces and affirms what Mars and our 70K associates are trying to do around the world, and I’m humbled because while we’ve been in business for over 100 years, I feel like we’re still getting started when it comes to bringing Mutuality to life.

"Our associates and the Mars family believe deeply in 5 Principles that guide us in how we run our business, and even our lives.  Mutuality is one of those 5: and mutuality speaks to Mars’ desire to benefit to all who come into contact with us…whether through employment, through supplying products or services, through the communities in which we operate, or through the purchase and use of our products. 

"The other 4 Principles are Quality, Responsibility, Efficiency and Freedom (and by Freedom we mean financial freedom to chart our own course and make long term decisions).  These 5 Principles are both static and evolutionary, and we seek to live up to them and bring them to life in all we do.

"Almost 70 years ago, in 1947, my grandfather, Forrest Mars Sr. penned a letter that spoke to his vision for Mars, Incorporated. It was nothing remarkable to look at – just a few short sentences of typewriter ink on a piece of paper that’s long-since grown yellowed and faded.

"It stated that Mars, Incorporated and all of its associates should promote a “mutuality of service and benefits” with every stakeholder that comes into contact with the business: from consumers to distributors, competitors to direct suppliers, governmental bodies to all employees and finally to its shareholders-who were called out last in the list. 

"In essence this was his attempt to answer the most fundamental questions that all institutions face. Why do we exist and what is our purpose?  He believed that his business was about more than generating profits. He laid out his belief that Mutuality was the purpose: that long term ‘win-win’ relationships were the key to success.  And we still believe that deeply whether it relates to, for example, supplier negotiations, the supply chain itself in a broader sense, the pricing and promotion of our products, the tax payments duly levied by governments, or the environment at large. 

"But how can we know when we’re really living up to our principle of Mutuality?  I’m certain that we don’t always.  And what is the right level of profit after all? What are in fact the metrics of Mutuality?

"Since our inception, Mars, Incorporated has grown to become one of the largest and most successful food manufacturers in the world.  We have operations in 74 countries, across almost 400 sites, where we manufacture confections, drinks and food for people and pets, and we have 11 brands with over 1 billion dollars in sales.  But size and scale are not an end in themselves.  And they certainly aren’t a reason in themselves for the family to want to keep the business privately held.

"Generating  Mutuality in all we do is, however, a rallying cry: for the family and the associates.  And today we have a 25-year vision that states, among other things, “Our belief that principled business can make the world a better place. Our ambition is to achieve Mutuality with our Associates, all stakeholders whom we touch, as well as for the planet. Our behavior demonstrates principled leadership and builds stakeholder trust.”

"And we’ve embarked upon bringing Mutuality to life both qualitatively and quantitatively.  In fact, we have a formal relationship with Oxford’s Said Business School at the highest levels to do just this: to quantify what Mutuality really is….to define the metrics for it across the entirety of our business.

"Furthermore, if I may, some examples of how we’re bringing Mutuality to life include: our sequencing and publishing of, without restriction, the cocoa genome so that we and others can work to improve the yield and disease resistance of this important global crop; our commitment to 100% of the key ingredients we use: cocoa, fish, tea, coffee and palm oil, with others to follow, as coming from certified sources by 2020 (and that includes economic, social and environmental components to that certification); our commitment to strengthening the whole cocoa supply chain for all farmers (including their access to nutrition through the African Orphan Crops Consortium); our precedent setting and industry leading global commitment to all our confectionery products having portion sizes of no more than 250 calories;  and the grand challenges that we’ve set for ourselves to create a range of nutritionally concentrated foods to address the needs of those whose children in many parts of the world face systemic malnutrition and stunting.

"My great grandfather had a powerful vision. The family today and Mars itself shares that vision and the conviction that Mutuality is the best way to do business.  And we’re looking for others who share this vision with whom we can partner to explore how to best to bring it to life.  It’s our belief that world truly needs it and that in fact it is the best way to do business-for all concerned.

"So I’m grateful and humbled to accept this award on behalf of all at Mars.

"Thank you very much."

--Bruno Roche

Statistician with a mission

New routes to financial inclusion