Respecting Human Rights

Our Approach to Human Rights


We believe that the global economy – and global businesses like ours – needs to do much more to ensure that work empowers people. We believe we can, and should, play a role in increasing opportunity for people to thrive in the workplaces and communities we touch.

At Mars, we don’t just talk about the Five Principles. We strive to bring them to life every day, in all that we do. To us, this means seeking to promote and respect human rights across our entire value chain. From factory workers in Chicago to farmers in Cote D’Ivoire, we believe everyone touched by our business should be treated with dignity, fairness and respect.

Our work is guided by Mars’ global Human Rights Policy, launched in 2014, which embraces the international human rights principles in the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

Learn more in our Human Rights Position Statement

Our dedicated global human rights team works with teams across our business and consults with respected third-party experts and civil society groups to advance our work. On a quarterly basis, our Human Rights Steering Committee, comprised of Mars senior executives, reviews our progress, and we report on human rights annually to our Board of Directors.

We believe collaboration is critical to making progress in addressing complex and systemic human rights issues. We work with governments, businesses and communities to advance shared goals across our value chain.


In the 78 countries where we do business, and across our value chain, we are making progress promoting and respecting human rights – but we also face many challenges.

Drawing on the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, we have developed the CARE Framework as a step-by-step tool to guide our human rights decisions and actions: Commit, Assess, Respond, Engage. We Commit to policies and practices and build governance and capabilities. We Assess impacts across our value chain, actively listening to impacted people. We Respond as we seek to prevent, address and remediate impacts, in collaboration with industry, government, and civil society. And we Engage transparently, sharing our successes and challenges. 


Responsible Workplace
We continually work to create and maintain great workplaces where our 85,000 Associates can thrive. This includes seeking to ensure that their human rights are respected and that we are engaged with the communities in which we operate.

As part of this program we:

  • Train Associates on our global Guide to Ethics & Compliance, which explains our human rights values and expectations.
  • Ensure all Associates have access to a local Ombudsman to whom they can confidentially and anonymously report workplace issues.
  • Provide independent auditors with access to all our workplaces to assess our human rights performance and to ensure that any issues are addressed.

Responsible Sourcing
We want to work with partners who share our principles-based approach to business. We rely on thousands of first-tier suppliers around the world to keep our business thriving – they supply us with critical materials such as ingredients for our products as well as essential goods and services.

In 2011, we launched our global Supplier Code of Conduct and our Responsible Sourcing Program. Our Code lays out the human rights expectations of our first-tier suppliers, all of whom are expected to uphold the Code. In addition, we require that select suppliers operating in high human rights risk geographies or industries undergo independent workplace assessments.

As of mid-2016, more than 600 third-party assessments of our first-tier supplier workplaces had been carried out, and more than 85% of our suppliers are in alignment with our Responsible Sourcing requirements.

Sustainable Sourcing 
We are seeking to advance respect for human rights in our extended agricultural supply chains, which reach past our first-tier suppliers all the way to the farm or fishery level. Some of the most serious human rights issues in our value chain are at the farthest ends of our agricultural supply chains, where our influence and visibility is typically low.

Our Sustainable Sourcing program includes all five of the Mars sustainability impact areas: human rights, income, climate action, land management and water stewardship.. It is focused on mapping key supply chains to better understand where we source our products, understanding the nature of the supply chains and seeking to understand the relevant sustainability impacts.

We have worked with experts to identify salient human rights issues present across the industry in the extended supply chains of a number of our key agricultural materials, including cocoa, fish and palm oil. We are mapping these and other key supply chains to better understand them and any related human rights issues. In consultation with human rights experts and thorough review of publicly-available data, we have identified forced labor and child labor as the human rights issues that may pose the most severe risk to people in our extended supply chains. Even as we work to advance respect for all rights, we place special emphasis on these salient issues and we prioritize actions that reach the most vulnerable people.

As we seek to understand the nature, extent and root causes of these and other human rights issues in these supply chains, we are collaborating with others who share our principles, and we are investing in joint efforts to accomplish our shared goals. Collaboration is critical to advancing respect for human rights at this level in extended supply chains, as sustained progress is only possible when industry, government, civil society and communities take action.

Learn more about our Thai fish supply chain human rights plan

Industry Action

We are taking action in our business and supply chains to advance the Consumer Goods Forum’s (CGF) Priority Industry Principles on forced labor. Mars led the development of these principles as co-chair of the CGF’s forced labor taskforce, alongside Tesco, The Coca-Cola Company and Walmart, as we believe industry-wide focus and action on this issue is urgently needed. The Principles align with our existing human rights approach at Mars, and they provide us and others with an opportunity to deepen and strengthen our work as we seek to identify and address forced labor. We look forward to using our voice and our actions to drive progress on this issue, together with others in industry who share this goal.

Consumer Goods Forum Priority Industry Principles:

  • Every worker should have freedom of movement. The ability of workers to move freely should not be inhibited by their employer.
  • No worker should pay for a job. Fees and costs associated with recruitment and employment should be paid by the employer.
  • No worker should be indebted or coerced to work. Workers should work freely, aware of the terms and conditions of their work and paid regularly as agreed.

Explore Consumer Goods Forum Case Studies on Business Action Against Forced Labor

Global, Strategic Partner: Verité

We are proud to launch a global, strategic partnership with leading human rights and labor nonprofit Verité. Our long-term collaboration aims to advance respect for human rights and improve the lives of the most vulnerable workers in global supply chains relevant to our business. Building on our existing human rights strategy, Verité will advise and support work across our own operations, with our first-tier suppliers and in our extended supply chain. We intend to work across three pillars – Action, Insight and Dialogue. Read more from our announcement at the Skoll World Forum.

Learn more about the purpose and scope of this partnership

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