Onajite Olusakin says Mars Canada is the first place she has worked where they don’t use the word “employees.”
“We say ‘associates.’ When you say associates, it gives you the sense of business associates. So, it’s not top down. It’s about shared value. You are giving value and we are also giving you value. That is part of the principle of mutuality. It informs culture at Mars and how associates are treated with respect,” says Olusakin, internal communications manager.
“As an associate, I feel empowered. I feel free to do my job and be as creative as I want, because the Five Principles exist and because I know that the leaders embody and exemplify the Five Principles.”
The company’s five fundamental values that Olusakin is referring to are quality, responsibility, mutuality, efficiency and freedom. The Mars family created the Five Principles in 1983 as the core of the company’s culture and a reflection of how it does business.
Ellen Thompson, general manager of Mars Wrigley Canada, says the principles have never changed, but have been updated in 1993, 2003 and 2023. Updates reflect changes in the business and evolving customer expectations, for example, in areas such as sustainability and inclusiveness.
Based in Bolton, Ont., Mars Canada is known for such brands as Mars bars, M&M’s, Excel gum, Pedigree pet food and Ben’s Original. It also has operations in Newmarket, Ont., and Guelph, Ont.
Thompson says the Five Principles provide a compass that leaders and associates use in decision-making and serve as a connector for associates. “For new associates, it’s a way to understand our business and to understand the culture at Mars,” she says. “It is a commonality that ties them to other associates throughout the organization, whether it’s here in Canada or in countries around the world. It is a unifying element that creates a sense of belonging right off the bat.”
Olusakin was involved in bringing the latest iteration of the Five Principles to life through presentations, newsletters, emails, posters and online resources. She says her job is very much about advancing the principles every day through creating special moments for associates.
These include headliners, which are monthly mini town halls, as well as huddles, where business segments discuss business results and celebrate achievements. At quarterly town halls, all segments meet to discuss collaboration opportunities, results and achievements. Pop-up celebrations happen often to recognize sales achievements – complete with cake and confetti or balloons.
Olusakin is proud to work for a company that puts a deliberate effort into creating moments for associates. “I help create the moments that make associates say, ‘This is a great company to work for,’” she says. “It makes me proud that the company is so invested in making sure those moments happen for associates.
“Culture doesn’t come out of thin air. It comes out of the messaging and the behaviours that the company holds dear and the principles that the company wants to live by.”
Advertising feature produced by Canada’s Top 100 Employers, a division of Mediacorp Canada Inc. The Globe and Mail’s editorial department was not involved.