As one of the world’s most beloved baking companies, Grupo Bimbo knows what it means to live up to expectations. Mavín Domínguez Arroyo, Global Compliance Manager offer their insights on what it takes for Grupo Bimbo to export its own culture of integrity along its vast network of third parties, and what it means to be a Latin American World’s Most Ethical Companies honoree. Interview by Bill Coffin.

What are some of the ethics or compliance challenges specific to your industry, and how does Grupo Bimbo address them?

Mavín Dominguez Arroyo: Our compliance program started in 2014, since that, we developed several initiatives to build a strong compliance program for Grupo Bimbo at the global level.

One of our biggest challenges is the culture of the country we are operating in because not all countries have the same awareness and understanding of compliance. So we have to do several trainings, processes, and policies which help us to increase the awareness and comprehension between several stakeholders such as associates, vendors, etc.

I think with the actions that we’ve implemented in the last couple of years, we’ve become an actual player inside the company for any decisions that need to be made for procurement, M&A, you name it. For every process, people come to us first now.

Also, in the beginning, training was a challenge because not all the associates have access to our internal training university. So how did we reach these associates who are on the front line, delivering on the streets, or are at the plants? That was our main challenge, so we created the program train the trainers with a web-based program that started with us and our People team (HR), and the trained leaders and supervisors, and so on. Now it’s been seven years, and every year, we are consistently training over 90% of our associates.

Mavín Domínguez Arroyo, Global Compliance Manager, Grupo Bimbo

Compliance programs are not necessarily structured to make rapid, dramatic adjustments. Did the years of work you put in before enable you to move more quickly when you needed to?

Mavín Dominguez Arroyo: Absolutely. We have been working in the last few years not only to get the daily things out, but to plan ahead. Our periodic risk assessments help us respond to any type of situation where we do business. I think the experience we achieved globally and with our compliance champions throughout our different business units and in different countries also has helped us to have a very effective compliance program.

What other achievements in the last 12 months are particularly significant for your program, besides being named one of the World’s Most Ethical Companies for a sixth year in a row?

Mavín Dominguez Arroyo: We have several programs inside the company related to compliance. One that was recently carried out was a global internal integrity survey, whose main objective is the measure the associate´s perspective of the companies’ ethics and integrity culture; as well as to identify areas of opportunity to keep strengthening the our program. In the last edition we had incredible results with very high participation of associates.

Another example is our progress is our data privacy program, where we have managed the relationship of our data very closely. It is very important to our relationships with our clients, and several stakeholders. As the company started to understand the importance of our information, we analyzed all of our process risks and brought our associates and business units under the same awareness around data compliance.

Grupo Bimbo, from its very beginning, has had a culture of ethics and integrity. But in what ways do you feel that your ethics and compliance program exemplifies that culture?

Mavín Dominguez Arroyo: First of all, Grupo Bimbo has a unique humanistic philosophy where the people are the most important for the company. It’s a company that places the person at the center and never the means, and that humanistic approach to the business is what makes us special.

One of the most important things in compliance system is to understand the vision of our founders and try to think about where the company will be in twenty, thirty, or fifty years. In that way, we implement our compliance and ethics process with a sense of sustainability, to be aware of any regulations the company needs to comply with.

How does Grupo Bimbo’s ethics and compliance program, and its culture of integrity, contribute to the company’s broader success?

Mavín Dominguez Arroyo: I think when we expose our clients to the culture of our company, they realize that our company is a sustainable one. It complies with the law, and all of the different kinds of regulations we are subject to. But also, we can bring them delicious products with this mindset of ethics. So for me, I think that it’s a strong message to our clients and our third parties to be part of the World’s Most Ethical Companies, because it is part of our culture… In Grupo Bimbo we Nourish a Better World.

Also, our compliance and ethics program has helped the reputation of the company to grow; especially in these hard times, where reputation is such a soft line with social media and how everything is perceived, and I think that’s amazing.

Gruppo Bimbo is not just a big and well-respected company. You’re producing something that people bring into their home and put on their table. There is a personal connection there. Does that create greater expectations for the company to behave a certain way?

Mavín Dominguez Arroyo: All the Grupo Bimbo’s associates work to contribute to the company’s purpose: Nourish a Better World.

Our purpose guides us every day. As part of our beliefs, we bake every product with a high sense of quality to satisfy all consumer’s needs.

And of course, people have high expectations regarding Grupo Bimbo’s actions to Nourish a Better World. So, having a strong compliance program inside the company at the global level helps to manage and maintain high expectations.

Given the vast number of brands that your company produces, and the amount of work that your department does to uphold Grupo Bimbo’s reputation as a good company, do you feel that your work makes people more likely to buy your products?

Mavín Dominguez Arroyo: Absolutely yes. Building and maintaining a good reputation depends on different factors. Consumers demands transparent and purpose drive brands. In Grupo Bimbo, all our brands are aligned to our belief to Act With Integrity.

Consumers recognize this, they are aware of our high-quality process every time we bake our products and many of them know the initiatives the company does to procure nature or help communities around the world.

The culture and values related to the brand are very, very important because every time an associate of Grupo Bimbo sells our products, or when you see a Grupo Bimbo truck in the street, you feel happy. You know you’re part of what we call the Bimbo family; and that also replicates anywhere; in Argentina, Brazil, India, Europe, or the United States. You feel the proud about being part of Grupo Bimbo and its values, and it is our responsibility to take care of all of that.

We are also a reference point for ethics and compliance in Mexico and Latin America. That is such a huge responsibility. We have always tried to look out not just for us, but to assure our clients and third parties that they can establish their own compliance programs and then they can grow in terms of ethics and compliance. We are part a community, and if they’re doing better, that means that we’re doing better. If they are transparent, that replicates to us.

This is not Grupo Bimbo’s first time on the World’s Most Ethical Companies list. What advice would you give for companies seeking this designation?

Mavín Dominguez Arroyo: Be resilient. A compliance program is not made in a day. If you want to be successful, you have to apply every year, measure your process, and keep working hard to meet new standards. Also, you have to see best practices in other companies with very effective compliance programs and replicate them in your own company. Compliance is not a competition.

Also, you need support from C-suite, the board and the leadership to have an effective program. It’s very hard to work up. You need to work from the top down. For a new or small compliance program, you need to have that. It needs to be part of the culture. Your culture needs to be based on ethics and integrity. Then you can start with policies, risk assessments and or all the other elements of the program.