Ford focuses on future by facing its past

Car manufacturer Ford has illustrated how far its diversity policies have come since a series of PR disasters in the mid-1990s.

A national conference at Ford’s Centre for Manufacturing Excellence in Dagenham, Essex, dubbed ‘Making Diversity a Reality’, saw the company’s policies placed in the equivalent of a car showroom for HR and diversity practitioners to cast their eyes over.

Delegates were given the treatment you would expect of a firm skilled in rolling out new models at motor fairs across the world, with supporting videos and speakers emphasising the business case for diversity.

Stephen Odell, vice-president for marketing, sales and service at Ford of Europe, said: “We have moved beyond pressure groups and legal requirements and we want you to know just how far we have travelled in the past five years.”

In contrast to the union fury in the 1990s, when Ford workers’ black faces were airbrushed out of company advertisements, Transport and General Workers’ Union national secretary, Dave Osborne, described Ford’s current diversity policies as “leading edge”.

“Ford’s policies reflect the best practice that I am happy to take to other employers and demonstrate what is possible,” he said.

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