COLOGNE, Germany – Some 50 leading Ford suppliers were in Cologne recently taking part in a one-day European Supplier Diversity workshop. The event, organised by Purchasing and sponsored by Alan Draper, Vice President, Purchasing, Ford of Europe, was aimed at harnessing the benefits of workplace diversity and providing support for minority groups.
Ford of Europe Purchasing developed its own Supplier Diversity strategy several years ago, taking into account the successful model used in North America, where government sets targets to support defined minority groups.
In Europe, the law is based on equal treatment for all; in many countries there are no defined minorities, and privacy laws prevent disclosure on minority status.
Ford’s approach is to actively engage suppliers in a positive dialogue around what they are doing in their businesses and supply chains to value the diversity of the people involved.
As part of that engagement, the company has published a key policy document to all suppliers asking each to develop for their business a Diversity Plan which embraces an open, positive workforce environment, better retention of a more diverse workforce, better idea development, and supportive of Ford’s globalisation efforts through the development of effective diverse international teams.
“We have received overwhelmingly positive support for our strategy from our supply base,” said Andrew Bruell, Chair of Supplier Diversity, Ford of Europe. “We have completed a detailed supplier survey of diversity policy and activity last year, with more than 70 top suppliers participating. From that we know that over 1,000,000 people in our supply base are employed by suppliers who share our vision and who have plans to work on creating a better work environment for their workforce.”
Examples of major supplier activities include signing National Diversity Charters, focus on women (recruitment efforts, part-time working, girls’ days to encourage entry to manufacturing) and working with the disabled.
During the workshop suppliers worked in teams to make plans for a range of diversity topics such as our ageing society, and developing international teams. Nearly all suppliers attending reported the event as very positive and look forward to further dialogue with Ford leading this initiative.