Better Capitalism in Action - Mars, Inc.

The ethic of mutuality – pursuing self-interest as well as the interest of others – is a core tenet of what we term Partnership Economics and advocate is the gateway to better capitalism. We are thrilled, perhaps even giddy, when we find real-time examples of mutuality, Partnership Economics, and people making progress toward better capitalism. If you’re new to this blog and an introduction to the ethic of mutuality might prove helpful, we invite you to explore some earlier posts here, here, here , and here. For a deeper dive, particularly regarding application, we invite you to read our book Better Capitalism.


How do you best know the global products and services of Mars, Inc.? Do you indulge its iconic treats like M&M’s chocolates and Orbit gum? Perhaps your four-legged family members enjoy its popular Pedigree and Royal Canin pet food? Or perhaps you and the rest of the family enjoy its Ben’s Original and Seeds of Change people food? We’re curious, what emotional response does your relationship with Mars brands elicit?


What about Mars, the company? The family-owned company, otherwise fiercely private about its finances, recently released sales figures as its retiring CEO Grant Reid hands the reigns over to Poul Weihrauch. As reported in The Economist (July 2, 2022), since Reid took office in 2014 revenues have increased by more than 50% to $45bn. That makes Mars bigger than The Coca-Cola Company. The only Mars shareholders – the founder’s family – is a dynasty worth about $96bn. The fourth generation runs the board and, like shareholders universally, have varying priorities. Yet these shareholders do not waiver from the leadership and management philosophy that has served them and their predecessor shareholders and stakeholders so very well over the past 100 years.


Image Credit: NBC News


However you engage Mars, unpinning that relationship is its generations-long leadership and management philosophy, which includes mutuality. For those familiar with the language of Jim Collins’s Built to Last or Good to Great, mutuality is part of the Mars core ideology. In the language of Mars, mutuality is one of The Five Principles. “The Five Principles form the foundation of how we do business today and every day. With 140,000+ Mars Associates working in 80 countries across the globe, clear direction and a moral compass are essential.” The Five Principles are: Quality, Responsibility, Mutuality, Efficiency, and Freedom.


For now, and for your careful consideration, we share with you a summary of the Mars Principle of Mutuality. Consider using this as checklist of ways you too can begin to implement mutuality in your business:


The Five Principles: Mutuality

A mutual benefit is a shared benefit; a shared benefit will endure.


Our Relationships – Why Mutuality Benefits Everyone

We believe that the standard by which our business relationships should be measured is the degree to which mutual benefits are created. . . . Likewise, while we must try to achieve the most competitive terms, the actions of Mars never should be at the expense of others, either economic or otherwise. . . .


Our Common Goal – Mutuality of Benefits

We depend completely on the strength of our relationships — with our consumers, with our fellow Associates, suppliers, distributors and the communities where we live and work. We believe we will only achieve the best results if we are unselfish in these relationships and give a fair return.


Our Promise – Mutuality Principle: For Our Consumers

. . . Regardless of business pressures, our actions and decisions must reflect the basic truth that, if we offer quality and value, support and success will come in return. . . .


Our Reward – Mutuality Principle: For Our Associates, Units and Shareholders

The Mutuality Principle applies equally to all parts of our business. We value Associates as individuals . . . Units pursue their objectives for the good of the whole of Mars . . . In recognition of continued commitment, shareholders receive a fair return on investment.


Our Pledge – Mutuality Principle: For Our Suppliers and Our Communities

As we negotiate with our suppliers and distributors, we must avoid terms that are harmful to their business while demanding supplies and services from them that will be the best for us. Mutuality imposes a special obligation on us to respect the environment and develop the most sustainable methods for achieving our goals. . . .


Our Standards – Corporate Responsibility

Our constant commitment to Mutuality always has given us the highest standards of corporate responsibility. It has consistently underpinned the ethics of our corporate governance and has helped us deal fairly everywhere we are active. Our Mutuality Principle is at the heart of the bond of trust, respect and honesty that we share with our Associates and our consumers.


We at Better Capitalism are thrilled for the success experienced by Mars over many generations as it contextualizes and remains steadfastly committed to the profitable ethic of mutuality. Now, within your context and your realm of influence, how might you and your company begin to contextualize an ethic of mutuality and make the transformative move to better capitalism? We’d love to hear of and share your success making that move to a more ethical and profitable form of capitalism.



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