At the PepsiCo Vallejo Biscuit Plant in Mexico City, one of PepsiCo’s main manufacturing facilities for Gamesa cookies, there is one product packaging line that is a little different from the rest.
The line is called “La Linea Rosa,” or “the Pink Line,” and it’s staffed entirely by women who wear pink vests and operate pink equipment.
“The Pink Line was developed as part of PepsiCo Mexico’s cultural transformation process, and our focus on diversity and inclusion,” said Gustavo O’Farrill, director of the Vallejo Biscuit Plant.
“Certain key positions at the plant were traditionally held by men,” he said. “We wanted to find ways to increase job opportunities for our female associates, to help them advance and succeed, while at the same time increasing the availability of high-quality talent to help keep our plant strong and successful.”
In early 2013, representatives from the plant’s safety, human resources, production and occupational health offices began planning development and training programs to help female employees qualify for non-traditional jobs.
During discussions about the planned changes with a committee representing the plant’s female associates, committee members proposed the creation of a production line staffed entirely by women. The reason, they said, was to demonstrate the ability of the plant’s female associates to deliver outstanding results.
The idea was accepted and today the Pink Line serves as a developmental program, training and preparing women for non-traditional jobs.
With the assistance of the women’s committee, applicants are identified and qualified candidates recruited to work on the Pink Line. In addition to performing the usual production line tasks, Pink Line associates receive specialized technical training to prepare them for a variety of jobs including equipment maintenance and repair, and pallet handling.
“A pallet handler is a critical position,” said O’Farrill. “They use pallet jacks to lift and maneuver stacks of products around the processing line, to the palletizer where they are wrapped in plastic, and then to storage. It’s a physically demanding job requiring special care and skills.”
In addition to technical training, professional development courses are provided on a variety of topics including teamwork, gender equity, self-development and motivation, all designed to provide the plant’s female associates with the tools necessary to fully integrate into the work environment and advance their careers at PepsiCo.
Once trained and qualified in their new roles, Pink Line members are assigned to various production lines and organizations throughout the plant, working side-by-side with their male counterparts.
While some at the plant may have initially doubted the ability of female associates to perform non-traditional roles, few doubters remain today.
“The Pink Line program has been a tremendous success,” said O’Farrill. “The line is driving strong results in the plant, packaging on average 75 tons each week. Those results also included zero lost time injuries, zero quality complaints and an outstanding job order completion rate.
“There is a lot of pride among Pink Line associates, and a great deal of interest in serving on it,” he said.
“We work hard every day to deliver on PepsiCo’s commitment to diversity and inclusion,” said Paula Santilli, vice president and general manager of PepsiCo Mexico’s savory business.
“Today, 25.5 percent of our associates and 41 percent of our front line employees in Mexico are women,” she said. “The Pink Line is one example of the innovative ways we’re working to attract and retain a diverse and talented workforce to help deliver long-term growth for our shareholders and stakeholders.”
The Pink Line was recognized by the Mexican Center of Philanthropy as a best practice in “work-life balance in the company” category.