Mars Incorporated.

As of 2017, Mars Incorporated has begun implementing their Sustainable in a Generation Plan, which maps and evaluates their multinational supply chain in accordance to Step 1: Embed in policies of the Gender-Responsive Due Diligence process. Their specific focus on holistic gender equality in this plan resulted in successes that benefited not only the company, but also women in all areas of the enterprise, from the supply chain to the workplace.

Through the Sustainable in a Generation Plan, Mars made a commitment to renewing and creating policies with a gendered lens. This commitment is holistic as it focused on the workplace, the marketplace as well as the supply chain as places where women should be more empowered. Mars is also a UN Women’s Empowerment Principles signatory.

Actions undertaken

Mars highlighted areas where women were underrepresented and marginalised across their whole enterprise. They then made steps towards addressing these problem areas.

In the workplace, Mars committed to diversity and inclusion programmes. This consisted of a mentorship programme for women staff members with great potential as well as an inclusive leadership training, involving the top leadership, focusing on how to identify and address biases and barriers that limit women’s advancement within the company.

In the marketplace, Mars audits its advertising annually and works with groups like the U.N.’s Women’s Unstereotype Alliance and Geena Davis Institute to identify and remove gender bias from its marketing. Mars also work to build demand-side skills for women entrepreneurs in emerging markets through learnings from Project Maua.

In the supply chain, there was a particular emphasis on increasing incomes of women entrepreneurs in emerging Asian and African markets, providing financial literacy training, investing in long-term partnerships with organisations like CARE to unlock social and economic empowerment, and addressing issues relating to women’s poverty and human rights.

“Mars highlighted areas where women were underrepresented and marginalised across their whole enterprise. They then made steps towards addressing these problem areas.”


The progress and successes of the actions undertaken by Mars are recorded through impact reports, annual scorecards and their Gender Pay Gap reports. This is to judge if the targets and actions undertaken in their Sustainable in a Generation Plan are proceeding as planned.

In 2019, Mars published their second Gender Pay Gap Report in the UK where the difference in median hourly earnings of men and women had decreased significantly from 2.5% to 0.1%. Overall, this was a major success, yet Mars emphasised that they were still committed to eradicating the gap entirely and globally. Furthermore, Mars supports The Unstereotype Alliance co-convened by UN Women and Unilever, which is a powerful collective commitment to advancing gender equality and removing gender stereotypes from advertising.

Another major success of the gendered focus of the Sustainable in a Generation Plan was the women’s economic resilience programmes and projects. In 2019, across the Mars cocoa supply chains, 12 000 women participated in these programmes that were aimed at enhancing their entrepreneurial skills and boosting savings rates. Mars has also worked with CARE on implementing Village Savings and Loans Association projects in various communities since 2015. These projects engage the whole community in highlighting how negative attitudes towards women could be changed within households and the wider community.

“Women at Mars have played a powerful role in our history as a family-owned, privately held business. And their success is critical to our shared future. I believe our Full Potential platform can play a part in creating a more equitable world for women everywhere.”

– Lisa Manley, Vice President, Sustainability at Mars

Application to other enterprises

Mars Incorporated applied a gendered lens to their Due Diligence process in all three of the key areas; the workplace, marketplace and supply chain, which resulted in a better commitment to RBC. The official guidelines encourage the use of gendered lenses like this for the benefit of enterprises as a whole. Mars embedded these gendered issues and goals in the core of their business. Therefore, the growth of the business is tied to the implementation and success of these goals. This can be replicated by other enterprises that also aim to commit to a sustainable Gender-Responsive Due Diligence process.

This case study was written in collaboration with Plan International and Partnering for Social Impact.