Mars named as vice chair of Unstereotype Alliance gender equality initiative

The Unstereotype Alliance, aiming to promote gender and social equality through its shared approach to advertising, has named Mars, Incorporated as its vice chair, writes Neill Barston.

As the US-headquartered confectionery and food group explained, it has taken on a number of initiatives linked to the organisation’s goals, including its Dove chocolate brand in China crowdsourcing talented women for key creative roles for its “Put pleasure first” short film.

Meanwhile, in the UK, Maltesers has highlighted the diverse range of emotions mothers experience to promote maternal mental health.

The company joined the Unstereotype Alliance as a founding signatory at the annual Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity in 2017, and will be be represented on the Alliance’s leadership team by Fiona Dawson, Global President of Mars Food, Multisales and Global Customers.

Convened by UN Women, the alliance has targeted harmful stereotypes from advertising and media, with confectionery and snacks advertising historically over the past few decades having a chequered record for the tone of advertising content, notably with television advertising.

According to Unsterotype, the coronavirus pandemic has negatively impacted on progress with gender equality, with adversing since March 2020 less likely to feature women in speaking roles, less likely to show women working, and more likely to cast them in traditional roles.

Mars is one of several key businesses in the food and drink sector to have joined the initiative, including Mondelez International, which is behind the Cadbury and Oreo brand, as well, as Unilever and Diageo, alongside a wealth of other businesses across wider industries, including Microsoft, Google and Facebook that have engaged with the programme. Its membership now totals over 180 key companies around the world.

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of UN Women, commented: “It’s a pleasure to welcome Fiona Dawson to represent Mars as the fourth Vice Chair of the Unstereotype Alliance, bringing this group to gender parity.

“Mars has been an ally for gender equality and a longstanding member of the Alliance. This is the leadership team that helps to set the vision for our members. As captains of industry, they are our champions for change towards a world free of stereotyped advertising.”

Fiona Dawson, Global President of Mars Food, Multisales and Global Customers, enthused about her appointment.

She said: “Mars believes the world we want tomorrow starts with how we do business today. We are committed to ensuring the marketing of Mars brands elevates the voices of women from all intersections – including race, age, sexuality, religion and ability – to help create a world where all women can thrive.

“Through our advertising we want to celebrate the diversity of the audiences who enjoy them which is why we are incredibly proud to be a part of the Unstereotype Alliance since its founding. We’re looking forward to building on the work we have been doing by deepening our partnership with the Alliance and working with other members to change gender perceptions and drive progress towards gender equality.”

The appointment of Mars as Vice Chair is a recognition of the company’s strong allyship and advocacy on behalf of the Alliance since its founding, as well as the actions they have taken as an organisation to champion gender equality.

Through its Full Potential platform for action on gender equity, the family-owned business aims to empower women and close the gender gap in places of work, the communities where its ingredients are sourced, and in the ways its advertising is created.

In its workplace, the company has committed to gender-balanced leadership teams, equal pay across the global organisation, and has signed the Empower Pledge to support women’s advancement in leadership positions across G20 countries and UN Women’s Empowerment Principles.

Furthermore, earlier this year Mars launched #HereToBeHeard, a new crowdsourcing initiative which aims to elevate the voices of women everywhere (main image) to help shape a more inclusive society where women can reach their full potential.

The submissions received at will be shared with the world in a study by Oxford University’s Saïd Business School this summer. They will inform the action plans of Mars’ Full Potential platform, including policies Mars can implement and advocate for in its commitment to unlock opportunities for women.


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