More than a year ago, Mexico experienced its strongest earthquake in three decades. A 7.1-magnitude quake hit Mexico City with a vengeance, collapsing dozens of buildings. Hundreds of people died and thousands more were hurt in the region.
On that day at 3M Mexico, Managing Director Xavier Douellou and his hundreds of 3M colleagues evacuated 3M’s building. All employees were safe, and the building survived, so they immediately turned their attention to how 3M could help.
Within hours of the earthquake, 3M Mexico had mobilized to provide disaster relief. 3M Mexico’s Managing Operating Committee formed a crisis team and began to identify societal needs in the aftermath of the earthquake. Some people were still trying to determine if their family members were safe.
“3M was the first company to respond to this emergency,” said Jana Nieto, Government Affairs & Corporate Social Responsibility manager. “We say we care about social responsibility, and we really walk the talk. When Mexico needed us the most, we were there to help our community.”
3M Mexico agreed to donate more than 640,000 respirators, eye and ear protectors, vests, helmets and medical tape to protect first responders. The only problem was that the plant where the products were manufactured was five hours away from the affected area, and the roads were closed.
The solution: 3M worked with a trade association to establish contact with a local airline to fly the 13 tons of product to the earthquake zone in Mexico City.
Once the roads opened, the 3M team worked with two organizations: Fondo Unido (Mexico’s United Way), and Cadena, a non-profit organization that provides assistance in emergencies and natural disasters around the world, to ensure the products were delivered properly and to distribute products on foot or by motorcycle. They also implemented a program called Mano a Mano (hand to hand) to deliver products by vehicle.
Fondo Unido recently recognized 3M’s earthquake relief efforts with four awards at the Annual Assembly of United Way:
- Social Impact Company of the Year
- Integral Alliance and Social Investment Award
- Award for the Largest Contribution In-Kind and In-Cash During an Emergency
- Award for Strategic Actions During 2017
“I feel very proud of the 3M Mexico team for their extraordinary effort that truly made a difference,” said Jose Varela, current managing director, 3M Mexico. “Our team worked together to equip first responders with personal protective equipment that allowed the rescue teams to find people under the debris and save lives. This made a significant difference in our communities and makes us very proud. It was just the beginning of many other efforts to protect and improve lives of communities where 3M is present.”
Following the earthquake, 3M also donated $300,000 (USD) to rebuild eight homes, a primary school and two safe centers (“ludotecas”) for children whose families were affected by the earthquake.
This fall the Leona Vicario Public Elementary School reopened for 108 students and their teachers. More than 80 3M volunteers helped rebuild homes for eight families in Xochimilco. 3M also helped reconstruct Fondo Unido’s office, which was damaged in the earthquake, impacting a staff of 31 people and their work with hundreds of NGOs.
3M’s commitment to improving lives
The work done by the 3M Mexico team after the earthquake illustrates 3M’s commitment to improve lives. In the wake of an unprecedented level of natural disasters last year in Mexico, Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico, 3M established a Global Relief Fund to strategically support affected communities into the future. In 2018, 3M responded to communities devastated by natural disasters in the U.S. and Asia to assist with recovery efforts.
3M was one of the first companies to establish a foundation in 1953, and since that time the company has contributed $1.45 billion in cash and in-kind gifts to community partners. Along with providing support in the wake of natural disasters, 3M works with humanitarian aid partners American Red Cross, Direct Relief and MAP International to pre-stock warehouses with supplies commonly used during relief operations.
3M improves lives and builds sustainable communities through social investments and thoughtful engagement of 3Mers worldwide. The company works with partners to support initiatives that have a real impact in communities and that provide solutions to some of the world's most pressing challenges.