130 years Celebrating Together

Popular, A Corporation Focused on Its People

One hundred and thirty years ago, a group of acquaintances walked together to establish a bank distinguished by the quality of its employees.One hundred and thirty years ago, a group of acquaintances walked together to establish a bank distinguished by the quality of its employees. 

This bank, now known as Popular, has consistently strived not only to provide a space where clients can trust their finances, but also to create an environment where employees can experience human warmth and appreciation for their work.

Over the years, Popular has developed a much more robust and expansive structure, gradually making its mark in municipalities across the island and in different markets beyond Puerto Rico. This journey through time has shown how Popular has always been there for its clients, communities, and people, especially during tough times.

From the early 20th century, Popular started making important contributions to its employees, and vice versa, significantly impacting the company. One such story from the early century involves employee Pedro Quiñones (Periquín), who lost his home after Hurricane San Felipe in 1928. It wasn't until Don Rafael Carrión Pacheco intervened that he was able to rebuild his home.

As time went on, Popular cultivated a more diverse human capital. In the early 1930s, there were very few women in banking, but Don Rafael met a brilliant woman named Amina L. Ferré. She started at the bank as an officer and eventually became Popular's first female manager.

Time progressed, laying the foundation for projects and benefits to ensure employees felt well cared for at the bank. One of the first benefits was the Christmas bonus, introduced in 1935. Subsequent benefits included:

  • 1946: The Pension Plan began
  • 1947: The Employees' Club
  • 1950s: Introduction of distinctive pins for employees and the Years of Service ceremony
  • 1952: The first medical plan
  • 1957: Distribution of bank shares to employees, establishment of the first infirmary, and Health Orientation Program
  • 1961: Profit Sharing Plan was established
  • 1976: Operations began at the Employee Activity Center for employees and their families
  • 1977: The first summer camp
  • 1983: The first Leaders Institute
  • 1992: Launch of the Development Center

These steps, along with many additional programs, made Popular an ideal workplace. 

Mariemi Sierra, manager of the Our People division, states, "One of Popular's foundations is its people, and we aim to reaffirm this by listening to their needs and understanding what they value and experience in the organization. Balancing our colleagues' expectations is very important to us.".

 

The company strives to retain employees by ensuring they have a fitting experience and feel comfortable in their roles. "People work because they enjoy what they do, and their work impacts many lives. We aim for the perfect combination where you enjoy your work experience, learn, and contribute," continued Sierra.

Eduardo Negrón, Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer of Popular, Inc.'s Administration group, said, "Popular has always prioritized its people. With that in mind, we've sought to develop projects that enhance collaboration and continuous learning. In 2022, we started developing Popular Campus, a strategic project that includes the Development Center for employee education."

Negrón explains that this development will feature a wellness center, sports court, swimming pool, training equipment, and yoga facilities to cater to physical and emotional wellbeing. Popular has long had a Health Clinic and encourages preventive health checks through internal communications, focusing on holistic wellbeing.

Popular also aims to be competitive in salary, conducting studies to close the gender pay gap. Benefits such as extended maternity and paternity leave have been introduced, and following the pandemic, the company incorporated hybrid work for suitable positions.

Both executives emphasize that the company seeks a new purpose, centering on "putting people at the heart of progress." This includes employees.

"We want everyone to understand that people are the most important, and developing a company's human capital is essential for sustainable growth and long-term success. Investing in employee development and growth means investing in the company itself and its ability to compete in an ever-changing market," Negrón concluded. 

As part of our 130th anniversary celebrations, we present our Stories of Impact, which highlight Popular's legacy in Puerto Rico's socioeconomic development through the following lenses: innovation, small business support, housing, financial inclusion, and human capital development.