When Martha Herrera González asked herself what she wanted to study and where, she was very clear that the profession she would choose would have to be in harmony with her philosophy of life: to help others.
Helping is a word that defines support. But Herrera, who is the current Global Director of Responsible Business and Shared Value at Cemex, takes it very seriously. She doesn’t just want to help; she wants to serve.
That has been her purpose since she joined Cemex, where she has leveraged the company’s global reach during her 25 years of service. Women, young people and children in more than 50 countries have benefited from the work that Herrera does in addition to her work within the cement company.
“I work for and I am committed to women of any age. I dedicate a lot of my time to being a coach and a mentor and to developing local, national and international initiatives that support gender equality,” she says about her work.
Community service with global reach
Before helping others, you must first help yourself. This was one of the ways in which Martha Herrera discovered that her support for social development could be effective.
“I have experienced it firsthand: in order to help others, I realized that first, I had to know myself and develop my own strengths,” she says.
The numbers are on your side. More than three million women have benefited from the support of the company, to develop personal capacities and abilities. Although for Herrera it is not enough.
During her professional career, Herrera González has made an impact by helping in these areas:
- Reduction of gender violence
- Self-esteem in women
- Development of financial and commercial capacities in women
With the help of company staff and the Cemex-Tec de Monterrey Center for the Development of Sustainable Communities, which she directs, Herrera has contributed to the social transformation of nearly 18 million people in more than 50 countries.
Although the work can be distributed among the members of the Center, Herrera gets involved at every step. “I have taken the time to personally go to more than 5,000 communities, where we have the opportunity to operate. I’ve had the opportunity to meet and listen to many people along the way, to be the bridge between these communities, the people and the company,” she says.
This work did not go unnoticed by her collaborators, who nominated her for the 2020 Mujer Tec (Tec Woman) Award. For her commitment, Herrera was recognized in the Career category.
Due to her profile in international studies, Herrera acts as an ‘interpreter’ for the needs of the communities and Cemex. Thus, the company knows how it can contribute to the development of the sites where it operates.
“I have also been a bridge for collaboration between the company, the public sector, the academy, civil society organizations, the media, governments, and all those who have joined the different causes that we have and that have contributed to this purpose,” she highlights.
Herrera has been working at the Cemex-Tec Center for 10 years. Its objective is to promote social entrepreneurship in less favored communities. All its actions are aimed at combating poverty.
According to data from the National Council for the Evaluation of Social Development Policy (CONEVAL), four out of every 10 people in Mexico are poor. In one quarter, the average income of Mexican households is 53 pesos, according to Inegi figures released in July 2019.
In addition, in 2019 the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) indicated that up to 50% of the Mexican population lives in poverty and extreme poverty. It’s no coincidence that Herrera and her team are dedicated to combating the scourge of inequality.
“I started trying to promote this type of action within the company. I had bosses who helped me with the process. In addition, I was trusted by the company directors and given the freedom to start proposing some actions that would have a social impact,” Herrara recalls.
Starting in Mexico and taking their strategies where Cemex has operations, Herrera and her team continue to work to have an impact on as many people as possible. And despite almost 25 years of work, she is not satisfied.
“I’m not even close to having accomplished what I think I came to this world to do. So, while they allow me, I will continue to put all my passion and determination into having a country in which we can live with a sense of wellbeing and quality. Where we take care of the planet that we live on,” she highlights.