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What planet are businesses on?

24 March, 2023

In an uncharacteristically public statement, Poul Weihrauch, the CEO of Mars, spoke up this week about the importance of companies taking their ESG commitments seriously, stating that beyond Mars’ revenue growth over the next decade, their more important target is to achieve ‘responsible growth’.

Weihrauch’s argument is strong and simple. If companies don’t prioritise their environmental and social goals, they will lose interest from the younger generation who won’t stay with them as employees. Profit can, and should, coexist with purpose. Mars is showing what this means in practice, with the intention of increasing their sustainability spending to US$2.7 billion in the next year, as well as making substantial efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve the sustainability of their supply chain.

Weihrauch’s comments respond to the increasing tension between the growing body of evidence that warns that we’re headed for a climate catastrophe if we don’t act now, and the camp of investors, politicians, and businesses whose neglect of environmental and social goals makes acting now a difficult task. The IPCC report published this week states that we will be stuck in an ‘unlivable world’ if we continue our current path, and the political will of powerful entities will be an important ingredient for change. But with allegations of ‘woke culture’ flying around and the continued politicisation of ESG goals, it makes the road ahead a difficult one. Weihrauch’s message is clear- that companies mustn’t let such accusations dampen their efforts to implement responsible, purpose driven growth.

By Rosie Serlin

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