By Chloe Aiello
It's 2019 and it's still a man's world. Confectionery maven and billionaire Victoria Mars played by men's rules and was rewarded. Now, she says it's high time women got to play by their own rules.
"I've grown up in the system, I was successful, yes. But how was I successful? I was successful by being able to adapt to the system. That's no longer OK. The system needs to adapt to women, so that all women can thrive," Mars told Cheddar on Friday, which marked International Women's Day.
The annual celebration, she said, "is an opportunity to focus on this gender balance that we know is not balanced.'"
An heiress to the Mars family fortune, Victoria Mars kicked off her career in her family's company, which owns candy, snack, and pet food brands, like Milky Way and Dove. Working her way up the ranks, she eventually reached the company's pinnacle as chairman of the board. She continues to serve as a board member and has also become an outspoken voice for equality for women in business.
Mars knows there's no better place to start making change than within her own company. That means looking at all levels of the business starting inside corporate headquarters and moving out through the supply chain. About 42 percent of lower-level leaders in the company are women, but that number shrinks to about 25 percent in upper levels of management, she noted.
"We look within our own four walls. That really means looking at our own systems and processes and policies ... and say what is not working," she said.
The company is also looking outside of its own walls, specifically in those communities in Africa and Indonesia that supply the cocoa for Mars Inc.'s world famous candy. Women comprise about 45 percent of labor force in those communities, but rarely reap the same types of benefits as their male counterparts. Mars Inc. has been partnered with CARE International since 2015 to provide the women with financial and social tools to succeed. Most recently, Dove and CARE International partnered to build a marketplace in Cote d'Ivoire for women-run businesses.
"We can only solve these issues through collaboration and working with others, and making sure we all keep pushing for this gender balance that is so key to our long-term success as a business, and also so key because of supply chain where we get all our raw materials ー those businesses need to be thriving," Mars told Cheddar on Friday.
The first stone in the marketplace was laid on Wednesday.
For full interview click here.