Cementos Progreso: Promoting Business Ethics Globally

Cementos Progreso is a Guatemalan company that endeavors to be exemplary in the construction industry. Since it’s founding the organization has been managed according to strong family values including ethical behavior and leadership, solidarity with the community and a commitment to long term sustainability. Cementos is characterized by its high-quality standards in the production and commercialization of cement, lime, and other construction materials and services.

Additionally, it partners with communities to participate in the development and implementation of projects that improve their quality of life. Environmental programs that foster conservation in the areas the company serves are a key component of its social responsibility.

Values are Blueprints 

Cementos Progreso has a Code of Values, Ethics and Conduct (known as COVEC), which represents the values which have guided the company since its establishment over a century ago. Every employee should demonstrate full commitment to achieving its operational and financial goals with accountability and minimum tolerance to failure.

The company believes that its values are the blueprints by which it measures its actions and serves as the foundation to its Leadership Agenda. Everyone who wants to form part of its corporate family should voluntary commit to live by these values, both in and out of the company. Cementos uses compliance management software called Convercent that helps it integrate compliance risks, disclosures, and policies with day to day operations. Annually, its employees reaffirm their commitment to its COVEC through Convercent.

To encourage a safe environment and protect employee wellbeing, the company has a completely anonymous complaint line for those who wish to report incidents without placing their privacy at risk. This model of anonymous reporting applies to everyone in the company, from the CEO to the entry level employee.

An All Encompassing CEO 

Jose Raul Gonzalez is the CEO of Cementos Progreso. Before joining Progreso he had a 17 year career as CFO of CBC, the Pepsi Cola anchor bottler for Central America and the Caribbean where he participated in the design and execution of the regional expansion of the company. He is a member of the Board of Trustees of Universidad Francisco Marroquin where he lectures in economics and is a former Dean of the School of Economics and the Business School.

He serves in the Board of Directors of the National Center for Economic Research, a Guatemalan think tank dedicated to implement social and economic policies and also serves in the Board of Directors of FICEM, the Ibero-American Federation of Cement. Jose holds a B.A. in Business Administration from Universidad Francisco Marroquin in Guatemala and an MBA in Finance and Economics from the University of Rochester, N.Y.

Leading the Industry Since 1899 

Cementos Progreso was founded by Carlos F. Novella, the son of Italian and German immigrants, in 1899. After graduating as an engineer in Belgium, he returned to his home country of Guatemala and decided to manufacture and sell a product not yet known in the country, cement. At first, he struggled to demonstrate the relevance and advantages of using this new product, but succeeded after this new product became the cornerstone for construction.

Long before Corporate Social Responsibility became popular, his company made significant contributions to the development of Guatemalan society by providing medical services for his workers and their families, schools for their children, above average salaries, training in occupational safety and a deep sense of ethics. Such is the heritage of those who have the privilege to belong to this organization.

A century later, Cementos Progreso is an industry leader renowned for its sound corporate practices, and a commitment to safety and the environment. Those efforts have been recognized by different organizations such as the British Safety Council or the Great Place to Work Institute. Furthermore, Cementos Progreso made history as the first Guatemalan company to join the UN Global Compact.

Global Recognition 

Cementos Progreso’s Code of Values, Ethic and Conduct dates back to its origins and represents the values with which its founder lived. This has allowed the company to forge a corporate culture that has led it to stand out for its ethics. Since 2014, the Ethisphere Institute, an independent center of research promoting best practices in corporate ethics and governance, has recognized Cementos Progreso as one of the World´s Most Ethical Companies for exemplifying and advancing corporate citizenship, transparency and the standards of integrity. This accolade is the result of years of commitment at all levels of the company.

Ethical Approach

According to Cementos Progreso, in this modern financial world where shareholders own and sell companies at the speed of light, family owned companies are a rare species and interesting sociological phenomena. In the troubled environment in which Latin America now finds itself, privately held companies also perform a valuable yet little known and seldom appreciated function as they work as a “moral reserve”.

Since the company expects its employees to practice the COVEC in all areas of their life, it believes that there is an important multiplier effect in its society. Its colleagues are encouraged to share this behavior code with their families, their communities and their leaders. It is not unusual for a Cementos Progreso worker to be identified with these values and become a moral leader in his or her community.

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