The #HereToBeHeard initiative implemented by Mars and involving the stories of 10,319 women from 88 countries showed that around the world women face longstanding and new barriers to gender equality.
Within the study, the female respondents most frequently mentioned harmful stereotypes based on which they are still perceived as weaker than and inferior to men. Similarly, women also strongly feel that there is inequality in the area of their career paths.
Everyone – individuals, government authorities, communities and companies – can take specific steps toward reducing inequality.
According to the top five themes in #HereToBeHeard initiative, more decision-making power and, mainly, the breaking down of stereotypes about the role of women in employment and in private life are the steps that women consider to be the most important on the path to gender equality. This is one of the finding of Mars global #HereToBeHeard study, which involved more than 10,000 women from 88 countries, regardless of race, age, religion, health condition or sexuality. The study was conducted at a time when the disparities between women and men have become even greater due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the World Economic Forum, it would now take another 136 years to achieve equality between men and women, which is an increase of more than one-third in comparison with the period before the pandemic.
Preconceptions that mainly women should be responsible for childcare, domestic violence and a lack of flexible work schedules are only a few of the barriers that prevent women from fulfilling their potential. The #HereToBeHeard study, by means of which Mars gave women a voice in order to describe in their own words what needs to be done to achieve an environment in which everyone is equal regardless of gender, revealed a total of eight key areas.
The women most frequently stated that it is necessary to put and end to systemic discrimination and harmful gender stereotypes that label them as weaker and inferior in comparison with men. This was the response that 80% of the women gave to the question: What needs to be changed so that more women can reach their full potential? Women perceive inequality in the area of careers – in many countries they get lower remuneration for the same work, unfair salaries and the glass-ceiling phenomenon, which do not allow them to get to the highest professional positions, unlike men.
“The #HereToBeHeard study clearly shows that there are still obstacles for women to reach their full potential. Mars in Central Europe is taking an active approach to provide equal career opportunities to men and women. We’re proud that 4 out of 9 Central Europe Leadership Team members are women, what is a result of creating longterm such a working environment where everyone can thrive regardless of gender,” says Zuzana Losakova, Corporate Affairs Director Mars Central Europe.
Everyone can contribute to improvement
The #HereToBeHeard study further indicated extensive systemic changes at the level of employers, governments and communities, as well as a shift in men’s attitudes, are necessary in order to eliminate inequality between men and women. According to 71% of the respondents, men play a key role, as they are perceived by some women as one of the key barriers to fully exploiting their potential; however, many women also consider men to be important allies in the effort to achieve gender equality.
Among the recommendations for mitigating inequality, the study mentions, for example, creation of a culture in which women can confidently be themselves instead of having to imitate men on the path to career success. Flexible work schedules, equal maternity and parental leave provided by the state to both genders and the prevention and elimination of gender-motivated violence and coercion should also be a matter of course. “Women at Mars can achieve their career ambitions while not compromising their roles as mothers or partners. I am very grateful for the flexible working arrangements which allowed me to better juggle my work and personal life”. says Sophie Gaspard, supply chain Director for Central Europe at Mars.
Mars is now using the findings of the #HereToBeHeard study, which also includes the voices of 1,268 of the Mars associates, to formulate and implement new approaches and measures within the Full Potential platform. The platform was established in 2020 with the purpose of enhancing gender equality not only in the workplace, but also in the communities and markets where the company operates.
However, truly everyone can help promote gender equality. It does not matter whether it is an individual, a community, a government body or a company. You can find details on how you can do more at www.mars.com/heretobeheard. Together, we can ensure that more women reach their full potential.
#HereToBeHeard is a global campaign from Mars, Incorporated which drives change on gender inequality, in support of Goal Five of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. It is part of Full Potential, the Mars platform for action on gender which aims to empower women and close the gender gap in the places we work, the communities where we source our ingredients and in the way we create our advertising. For more information on the #HereToBeHeard report by BSR and an update on the Mars Full Potential platform please visit mars.com/heretobeheard
All women who responded to the #HereToBeHeard study gave permission to use their written and recorded responses.