The business five principles of Mars

2019

Whenever I think about candy, I think about Mars, or one of its iconic brands including Snickers, M&Ms and Dove. Who else can top the nougaty goodness of a Milky Way bar?

Founded in 1911, this family owned business, has more than 125,000 employees working in 80 countries. The $35 billion company prides itself as a business that cares. For example, its sustainability plan places emphasis all along the company’s value chain. From ensuring that the cocoa farmer in a developing country gets his opportunity to thrive to reimagining its product packaging to ensure that 100% of its plastic packaging is reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025, Mars has built a culture that places emphasis on making a difference.

The “Five Principles of Mars” is the backbone of that culture. These principles inform what the company is all about:

The Five Principles

We are committed to Quality of work and contributions to society. This principle sets the standard for behavior at the Company. It encompasses the need to do a good job, exceed customer expectations and be a responsible citizen.

We embrace our Responsibility (as individuals and a company) to act now. This principle talks to execution. Mars expects all staff to take direct responsibility for results, to exercise initiative and judgment and to make decisions as required.

We base decisions on Mutuality of benefit to our stakeholders. This principle is about treating people fairly. The company wants to deliver value to customers, provide fair returns to employees and shareholders, provide mutual benefit to suppliers and give back to the communities that support the business, and, while it has been reported that Mars is not currently making the grade on its use of child labor in the cocoa factories of Africa, it has set an ambitious goal to eliminate all child labor in its cocoa operations by 2025.

We harness the power of Efficiency to use our resources to maximum effect. This principle addresses innovation in both tools and techniques. It speaks to increasing productivity while reducing costs. It is about running lean and not squandering resources.

We have the financial Freedom to make our own decisions, unrestricted by motivations of others. This principle is about maintaining independence. Private ownership provides Mars with the freedom to take a long-term perspective on making investments, building businesses and providing for the wellbeing of its employees.

It is hard to argue that these five principles have not made an enduring impact at Mars. Using them as their guide, the company has compiled an undeniable record of accomplishment since its humble beginnings in Tacoma, Washington. The fact that it has remained family owned is, in itself, a remarkable achievement. With such a solid culture in place, I can’t imagine anything but continued success for the confectioner. In the meantime, pass me the Skittles!

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About The Author

James M. Kerr
James M. Kerr

James M. Kerr is a long-time management consultant, vision maker and coach to some of today's best leaders. He is the author of several books including It’s Good To Be King and The Executive Checklist.