Grupo Bimbo SAB de CV, Mexico City, aims to transform the lives of both its associates and the communities in which it operates through its Baked for Life commitment. The work done in this pillar is one of the major reasons Grupo Bimbo is such a beloved company in Mexico. Under this commitment, Grupo Bimbo has several programs and lines of action to encourage employees to be their best selves and give back to their communities through social investment donations, the Good Neighbor Program and volunteering.
In 2022, Grupo Bimbo made 662 donations equaling MXN 265 million ($15.8 million). As part of its sustainability strategy, the company also gave MXN 75 million ($4.5 million) worth of in-kind donations to 55 food banks and 6.8 million slices of bread to food banks in 99 countries, contributing to the UN Zero Hunger Sustainable Development Goals.
“Don Lorenzo Servitje [founder and former chief executive officer] wanted to have a company that was highly productive and deeply humane,” said Alejandra Vazquez Langle Nieto, global sustainability vice president, Grupo Bimbo. “Sustainability wasn’t a buzzword in 1945, so it was more about being socially responsible. People have always been at the heart of what we do. That has evolved from social responsibility into community programs to now our Good Neighbor Program.”
The Good Neighbor program aims to identify the needs in the communities surrounding Grupo Bimbo work centers. Each work center’s staff is encouraged to implement sustainable solutions to address those needs. The program celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2022 and has implemented 1,489 projects during that time. The company’s 2030 goal is to implement at least one social impact project per work center annually. At Bimbo Santa María, the bakery has rehabilitated a playground, outside gym and sports field; rejuvenated green space in the neighborhood; provided new outdoor lighting; and invested in a specialized area for the disabled and elderly residents. This year, the bakery will conduct rainwater collection at local schools, which will provide safe water to the community.
“The projects are all specific to the needs of the community,” said Jimena Hernández, global sustainability manager, Grupo Bimbo. “The plant will work with community leaders and even local government to define those needs and how to help.”
The rainwater project has been implemented in seven schools through a partnership with Agua Capital and Isla Urbana to strive for zero waste through rainwater harvesting, a hand-washing system and playful educational program. The program encourages a culture of water care and awareness from an early age.
Grupo Bimbo lives out its focus on the individual by empowering its associates to better themselves. In addition to excellence in worker safety, Grupo Bimbo addresses multiple aspects of associates’ wellness through health programs aimed at promoting a healthy diet, physical activity, work-life balance and health. Its 2030 workforce goals included continuing to consistently reduce its total recordable incident rate in each work center with world-class safety standards.
As Grupo Bimbo looks to strengthen its workforce, diversity, equity and belonging (DE&B) is impossible to ignore. According to its 2022 annual report, Grupo Bimbo aims to reflect the diversity of the communities it serves and create an environment of respect, fairness, trust and care, ideals that demand a conversation about DE&B. The goal for 2025 is to have 30% of leadership positions occupied by female talent. As of 2022, 26% of leadership positions are held by women, indicating the company is well on its way. To push the goalpost further, by 2030 Grupo Bimbo strives to have 40% female representation in leadership positions and be an inclusive and accessible workplace for people with disabilities.
Paola Agonizantes, production director at Bimbo Santa María, the bakery she started her career at 20 years ago in the bakery’s quality laboratory.
“It was wonderful to return to Santa María as production director because many people who worked with me 20 years ago recognized what I had accomplished in my career,” she said. “It was special for me because I was the first woman in this position in this bakery, and in Bimbo Mexico, I was the first woman to take this position. I am grateful for my colleagues in the other bakeries I’ve worked in, my female colleagues. It’s important for the company today to integrate women into all positions, and I am sure we will have more women in these leadership roles in a short time.”
During her career she left Santa María to gain other skills, being exposed to different operations and team members. In some of those facilities, Ms. Agonizantes found herself to be the only woman, which was challenging at times.
“When I started it was difficult because I didn’t have any female colleagues on the line,” she said.
Despite the isolation of being the only female on many a production room floor, Ms. Agonizantes said she had very important mentors in her life and had the opportunity to be in the first generation of female employees to participate in the Leadership Circles based on Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In methodology. Today the company is in the fourth generation of Leadership Circles.
“This is how Grupo Bimbo separates itself, and it’s important to participate in programs like this,” Ms. Agonizantes said. “The company can increase the number of women in the pipeline for future roles across the company.”