Welcome to the latest edition of The Brewery Journal, freuds’ periodical publication of insightful and provocative ideas from a hand- picked selection of some of the world’s most eminent academics, business leaders, political thinkers, and others. Regular recipients will know that each iteration of the Journal is conceived with a particular overarching theme in mind. As Guest Editor of this edition, I chose Mutuality as the topic.
Almost 70 years ago, in 1947, my grandfather Forrest E. Mars, Sr. penned a letter that spoke to his vision for Mars, Incorporated. It was nothing remarkable to look at – just a few short sentences of simple typewriter ink on paper that has grown yellowed and faded with the intervening years.
Simple as it was, its content had a powerful resonance that continues to echo through the family and our business decades later, as it was his attempt to answer the most fundamental questions any institution can face. What are we for, why do we exist?
Forrest didn’t believe that his business was simply about generating profits by satisfying a set of socially responsible consumer needs. Instead, he laid out his belief that Mars, Incorporated should prioritise the promotion of a mutuality of service and benefits across every stakeholder that comes into contact with the business: from farmers and suppliers to consumers, commercial partners, and even to competitors… all before shareholders. Put plainly: we should be a positive force in the world.
Nearly 70 years later, Mars, Incorporated has grown to become one of the world’s largest and most successful food manufacturers, distributing a portfolio of billion-dollar, household name brands across sectors ranging from Chocolate and Drinks to Petcare and Food to Gum and Confections. Ask anyone within our business from the boardroom to the factory floor where this success story stems from and the answer will be unequivocal–our Five Principles (Quality, Responsibility, Mutuality, Efficiency, and Freedom), of which Mutuality is of course one thereof. We believe and strive for every engagement with Mars at any level to be a win-win experience, whether financially and socially for the smallholder farmers who grow our cocoa, or the distributors who get our products to shelves around the world.
Clearly, then, Mutuality – creating shared value for all stakeholders through a form of capitalism and responsible business practices that defines success in much broader terms than profits for shareholders – has had a profound effect on Mars and indeed my own life. But the significance of this concept is by no means restricted to Mars, or indeed to the business world. From the corridors of public power to the halls of academic innovation, the influence and impact of Mutuality can be felt everywhere and has potential to effect change across boardrooms and borders everywhere. In curating this latest selection of The Brewery Journal essays, my goal is to shine a light on this growing belief in what we at Mars call Mutuality and to share some experiences of implementing it, including our own, with wider audiences.
Contributors range from former British Prime Minister Tony Blair to one of the world’s most eminent academic experts on social entrepreneurship, Dr Pamela Hartigan from the University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School; from Steve Howard, sustainability guru for global retail powerhouse IKEA, to celebrated business thinker John Elkington and Emmanuel Faber, COO of the highly successful company Danone, whose philosophy of business is deeply similar to Mars. While limited by the length of the Journal itself, I nevertheless believe this collection of essays reflect a sound cross-section of the thinking on Mutuality across the realms of business and academia, politics and intellectual thought.
Also included here is a new research study conducted specially for this edition of The Brewery Journal by freuds’ Insight team. The purpose of this research was to explore the link between Mutuality, commercial success and public perception. What becomes clear is that there is an unambiguous assumption that the most commercially-successful organisations are also those that place the greatest importance on delivering shared benefits across their entire value chains. And while not all successful global businesses currently embed this concept at the core of their corporate DNA, there is risk in not doing so given the public’s increasing suspicion of businesses’ motives overall and their lack of faith in anointed leaders.
I would like to conclude by taking the opportunity to offer my gratitude to Matthew Freud for the invitation to be the Guest Editor, and to each of the authors who kindly contributed content for this latest iteration of The Brewery Journal, as well as to those not included herein but who are advancing this dialogue in their own manner both publicly and privately for the benefit of all. And, in the spirit of Mutuality, I hope readers of this publication will find value in the ideas herein and add them into this critical conversation about the present and future of capitalism in which all are needed to participate. Without tangible action, I fear that capitalism will both fail to reach its full potential or achieve the benefits so desperately needed for the 7 billion alive today and those who are still to come on our fragile planet Earth.
Regardless, no one firm or individual can hope to define the purpose of corporations as we enter this second millennium, but together I firmly hope and believe that we can start to chart a route towards a new and more sustain- able capitalism and a version thereof to which all business leaders, shareholders and others can subscribe. Falling short of that will leave our children, the planet, and all its inhabitants with a bleak future indeed.