CEO of Mars, Incorporated hails workers and reflects on coronavirus impact in open address

The CEO of Mars, Incorporated, Grant F. Reid has penned an open address to its workers underlining the major pandemic challenges faced by the business, as well as noting the task ahead with an enhanced focus on employee wellbeing, reports Neill Barston.

As Confectionery Production previously covered, the business, including its confectionery division, has evaluated its internal policies regarding its social media presence in response to the Black Lives Matter campaign.

In his communication to its global base of employees, Reid affirmed that the business had started 2020 with ‘tremendous momentum,’ but conceded that nobody had anticipated the sheer scale surrounding the impact of coronavirus and its effects upon millions of people.

He also noted that this had coincided by the protest movements that have started in the US since the death of George Floyd in May, that he noted had resonated around the world, as businesses move to address their respective employee relations and wellbeing.

Reid said: “Clearly, none of us anticipated the impact coronavirus 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.

“In the face of coronavirus, 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.”

Furthermore, he praised employees as having ‘stepped up to do their pattern in helping flatten the infection curve’ as the business continues to operate amid pandemic conditions – including the US, which has the highest per capita death rate in the world from the virus, with over 170,000 claimed by the pandemic.

Reid also said that its workforce had made a difference in its engagement with the public, with collective donations of cash and products that totalling over $20 million, which had offered communities during a particularly testing period.

He added: “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 organisation, but we are committed to making sure our work environment is one where every sssociate feels valued and respected. Beyond that, we want to contribute to a more inclusive society.”

In response, he said that the business was accelerating our work in several areas including increasingly diversity in its talent and leadership pipeline and setting meaningful targets for improvement in representation by gender and race.  It is also expanding resources to support its Inclusion & Diversity ambitions, including building a larger and dedicated Inclusion & Diversity team, strengthening talent processes, and expanding training and education resources. Diversity across its marketing and advertising, sourcing and supplier communities is said to be reviewed.

He cited gains including reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions while growing the business (reducing emissions figures by 3.5%), as well as assisting more than 169,000 people in cocoa supply chains on a path to personal improvement, which was up 25% on its results from two years ago. As an example, Mars supported 17,000 women in its cocoa and mint supply chains with economic empowerment programmes that are boosting their savings and entrepreneurial skills.

Reid said there had also been ‘incredible progress’ on its goal of putting one billion more healthy meals on dinner tables through its food business—already delivering 991 million, as well as launching a 2025 Sustainable Plastic Packaging Plan. This involves working toward developing packaging that is reusable, recyclable or compostable, while decreasing virgin plastic use. He concluded that the actions the business had taken over the past seven months reflected with its goal of ‘the world we want tomorrow starts with how we do business today.’

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