In today’s world it’s widely recognized that people are hard-wired to belong and to feel accepted by others. In fact, science says the need to belong is a fundamental source of motivation, impacting our personal productivity and our organizational performance. When American psychologist Abraham Maslow developed his ‘hierarchy of needs’, he pinpointed how important a feeling of belonging is. It follows then that organizations and companies that recognize the importance of inclusion, can create a new generation of leaders who positively impact our future.
This exact topic drew more than 500 company founders, social entrepreneurs, CEOs and senior business leaders to the 4th annual Women in Innovation (w.in) Forum in New York in May. This year’s forum focused on Inclusion, Innovation and Impact—all of which start with “I.” The 2019 event was the biggest yet and it brought together change makers and diversity lovers and encouraged them to drive the change and innovation they want to see in their companies, organizations and beyond.
Among this set of inspiring speakers was Jean-Christophe Flatin, President of Innovation, Science, Technology and Mars Edge, who joined a panel about the Power of Belonging. He and other thought leaders shared various perspectives, from creating an individual sense of belonging at large companies, like L’Oréal, and appealing to a purpose-driven Gen Z, right the way through to a philosopher’s view on the need to be a bit ‘messy’ to really drive inclusion.
In a follow up interview with leading French business network, BFM, Jean-Christophe shared his insights on the importance of belonging in the context of driving innovation, as well as when acquiring new businesses.
“Belonging is at the heart of innovation; it leads to powerful ideation and execution. Innovation requires the ability to see things differently and bring unique viewpoints together, regardless of where they come from. Innovation also flourishes when people implement things together, thinking beyond functions and groups. To do that you need to feel that you belong to something bigger.”
Jean-Christophe talked about the importance of taking inclusion into account when we look for new businesses, making sure to support new Associates as they join our Mars family. “We take the matter of cultural fit very seriously—we don’t acquire companies without looking into how their Associates can fit and contribute to our culture,” he says.
Jean-Christophe added how we encourage and support Associate engagement at Mars. From our all-Associate survey, award schemes and impact planning sessions, we are constantly looking to create an empowering environment for Associates, so they feel they belong, as we continue to grow and evolve as a business.
A group of 15 women from Mars Global Services also joined the event. Their engagement and enthusiasm for the conference—and the connections they made with other participants—is a perfect example of how inclusion inspires innovation. Through belonging, we’re truly creating the world we want tomorrow…together.