Mexican culture is very chauvinistic and women usually are expected to stay at home, as well as having a very high ratio of poverty and lack of education. The company is composed of more than 70% women which goes against the traditional characteristics of Mexican businesses that are dominated by men. To help women get out of poverty and contribute to society more intensively, they are investing in quality education and preparing them for the adversities of the world, giving workers the tools and the support to accomplish their goals along with the company.
Gildardo Vázquez Guajardo
Universidad de Navarra
Isabel Rodriguez Tejedo
As Ildefonso, president of the board, said in the interview, "The company has many innovative aspects referring to the quality and specialization of the product. But the real innovative aspect is that the company follows a philosophy of empowering women in the workplace. Hiring women from underprivileged areas who are dedicated, responsible, and hard-working. Giving opportunities where previously there were close to none. This way, reducing the gap between men and women by providing economic opportunities and participation in which Mexico ranks 122 in the world."
Giving support and opportunities is not enough, the need for training and teaching is very important. This is why the company supports the staff in their studies to accomplish a more productive environment and this way expanding to other markets and increasing income. An investment that helps the company grow in the long run.
An important person to mention here is Lucy Torres. She started working in the company at a very young age and has managed to overcome all adversities and become an important part of the business. She started working in the company at 15 years of age when her family had a lot of economic problems and she was the one to step up. She started working as an "operator", where she worked for 6 years. After those years she took a break from work and decided to study and get her degree in finance. Throughout the years where she studied, the company financed the majority of her tuition. After she got her undergraduate title, she achieved her Master's degree which was also financed by the company. After Lucy finished her studies, she went back to having more structured assignments and managed to step up. Now she is the accountant of the company and has managed to not only bring her family out of poverty, but also give her kids education and economic security.
The company hires mostly women and usually helps them finish school, and later on to receive a university degree, while guaranteeing a job in the company and giving them a sense of empowerment. Ildefonso in a euphoric tone said, “It is very important to give women their place in the company with freedom to grow inside the company and have more opportunities”.
The idea came from the founders, Rolando, Luis Adrian, and Idelfonso Vasquez. They are brothers who have 3 sisters. One of the sisters studied to be a dentist. But with the male-oriented business, she faced a lack of opportunities. "She never could develop her career, was stuck in a male dominated profession and country." A story that is repeated in Mexico where the gap in the workplace has been unfair for women.
The partners saw the opportunity to help with this inequality problem and decided to focus their new business on helping women in the workplace, and coincidentally the company works in the medical sector, developing dental machines and tools. “We wanted to make a difference in the lives of as many women as we could help,” said Ildefonso.
"We saw an opportunity in the women workforce, as there are a lot fewer women working in our city. At the beginning we only hired women to work in the company, after some time we began to hire both sexes," expressed Idelfonso.
VAGO’s impact is not just giving women more opportunities in the workforce for more than 20 years, it is also how the company creates a culture that prioritizes women overall. It gives them the support, education, and environment needed for more equality that lead to women creating more opportunities for other women and their families, helping them with their education, preparation, health, and other needs, and in that way helping the entire community. They’ve created programs and platforms for their employees to feel part of the company.
As of 2020, the company is going through tough times, since there is less demand for products, and the workforce needed has also decreased. But they expect to go through this crisis and come out better and stronger. Expanding and having more women in the workforce.
In the long term, VAGO sees an opportunity to not only help women in Monterrey but throughout Mexico. Searching for capable and low-income families, which they can help and giving them a better way of living. Giving work, education, hope, and security is what has helped VAGO transform into a bigger company that will help even more low social status workers and their families. Investing in their workers' education and training them, not only for the workers' benefit but also for the company to expand and provide products to more people in more countries.
The company's culture is one of hard working people, who are true to their beliefs and desire to change the world. Empowering women is a way of doing just that.
Thanks to the certification ISO 9000 and the accreditation of the FDA combined with the ability to specialize products for consumer needs, VAGO has created a competitive advantage that can be exploited through its import and export channels. Also, the relationship they have with their clients, which is more like being part of a family.
Giving education to the workers has helped the business grow and expand to different cities and even countries. New workers are taught how to operate the different machinery. Later the company encourages education to continue their advancement in the organization. Giving them the tools to have a good education, giving them chances to give their family a better status. Having more education within the company has helped expand to new markets. For instance, the company started in Monterrey, selling their products within the city. A couple of years later, they sold to cities around the country and after that, they began exporting to the USA, as well as countries in Central America. People who have a better education, and are given opportunities to improve their life, tend to take advantage of them. This is why all the workers in the company rose from the bottom and are dedicated. They have put the company on the radar of other dentistry companies.
The company has an impact on society in different ways:
First of all, as the company focuses on medical devices it helps the well being and health of the society as a whole. And on the other hand, as the process of manufacture and assembly does not contaminate it is good for the environment.
But the bigger and more direct impact it has on society is the opportunity it gives to women to have more equality in the workplace. Reducing the gaps in the work force between women and men is extremely difficult, as well as their difference in pay. Equality has been an important part of this innovation. Society starts to see things with different eyes, with a different perspective. Having a larger percentage of women than men in a company should not be strange. Reducing inequalities in sex and age has helped to have a more peaceful and productive workspace.
Because the company has managed to open positions for many types of experienced workers, they continue to change the lives of a lot of women, and their families who are no longer in a position of poverty have found peace in financial terms. Investing in women, going against all "normal" Mexican companies, which only hire men, is a complex way of doing business. There are a lot of biases they have to change to make society a more comprehensive and more helpful one.
Taking people out of poverty improves the economy of the country as a whole. Improves the GDP, there is less worry from the government. As more people make their way out of poverty, they help others to improve their way of living. Investing in education is looking into the future to expect better performance and better ideas. For the worker, having a decent income as well as having a better position within the business and being able to sustain her family.
Ildefonso Jesús Vázquez González, CEO
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Monterrey, Nuevo León, MX
Business Website: https://www.vagoint.com
Year Founded: 1997
Number of Employees: 51 to 200
Throughout the history of Mexico there has been gender disparity. Women have suffered a lack of opportunity and participation in the workplace.
VAGO International Manufacturing SA is a business innovation with the purpose of empowering women in the workplace and giving them opportunities while also helping society.
The company was founded in 1997. VAGO’s main target is to sell qualified and inexpensive manpower with quality standards. They had originally focused on manufacturing dental products, but as they grew, they are now trying to create a different portfolio with new clients. “The major goal of the company is to reduce our client’s costs in as many areas as we can, such as logistics, labor, and transportation” said the CEO of the company, Ildefonso Vázquez. Nowadays, VAGO operates with two principal clients in the dental industry: Ultradent and NewSmile. However, during this past year they have been trying to expand their customers' portfolios and started developing different strategies to reach this new goal.