Mutuality has been at the very heart of Mars since Forest Mars, Sr. first articulated it as the objective of the business. Last week, Mars, and partner Saïd Business School at the University of Oxford, sponsored an event that brought companies together to share how businesses that create mutual benefits for themselves and others can be more successful than businesses focused only on profit.
More than 500 business leaders, policy makers, NGOs, students and faculty came together at the Responsible Business Forum, a joint partnership between Saïd Business School and Mars, to learn more about what determines, or undermines, a responsible business. Leaders from Mars—including Mars Catalyst Managing Director Bruno Roche, Mars Global Chocolate President Jean-Christophe Flatin, Wrigley Global President Martin Radvan—were joined by Oxford faculty and leaders from other like-minded companies, to share case studies and insights that explore how companies can and are seeking to adopt more responsible businesses practices.
Ian Burton, Regional President of Wrigley Europe, Jay Jakub, Senior Director of External Research for Mars Catalyst, Yassine El Ouarzazi, Demand Lab Director for Mars Catalyst and Clara Shen, Emerging Market Director for Mars Catalyst, were among the Mars leaders who presented case studies. Importantly, the case studies and perspectives across businesses also showed both successes and failures as sources of learning. The partnership between Mars and the Saïd Business School dates back to 2014, when the two first joined forces to explore the potential for building new business models based on mutuality.
Jean Christophe Flatin opened a panel on “Business Perspectives” about how mutuality guides Mars Chocolate’s actions and plays a central role in the challenges we face in the cocoa sector.
“There is no chocolate without cocoa. Cocoa is a very fragile crop that has barely modernized in the past 400 centuries and it is grown by single family farmers,” said Jean-Christophe. “The business challenge is the gap between worldwide consumers of great-tasting chocolate and single family farms in some of the poorest areas of the world. To protect and nurture our business we need to be transformation agents of this crop and go beyond traditional business boundaries.”
Wrigley President Martin Radvan also shared with the group how mutuality has been an ever-present part of his 30-year career journey.
“It certainly has been a journey,” said Martin. “From the start it was my experience as an Associate and the experiences I got to have seeing the impact business can have just by doing business. I’m proud and personally humbled by the initiatives I’ve seen over the course of my career but we are just scratching the surface, and I’m passionate that the journey continue.”
Mars Catalyst managing director Bruno Roche spoke about the role of business in repairing the world and the importance of developing a new management theory and training a new breed of business leaders.
“Business is one of the strongest forces in today’s world to emancipate people and communities and to address environmental issues,” said Bruno. “We are excited by the first insights that show that Mutuality can be managed rigorously with simple metrics and can drive superior business performance holistically. But this is just the beginning…the intent going forward is to continue to research this topic and create a broader platform where other companies and academic institutions can share their learnings and experiences — in a spirit of humility and learning from each other — to advance the collective understanding of how to drive mutuality in business.”
-- Gabrielle Braswell