Ford First Automaker to Outline UN Human Rights Issues

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Do you think there are some human rights issues in Saudi Arabia?

Ford Motor Company has announced the completion of a badly named but socially important “saliency assessment,” identifying nine of the most important human rights issues relevant to the company.

Ford claims to be the first automaker to complete this assessment, thought to be key in identifying the issues that are at risk of the most severe negative impact through activities or business relationships. Studies are one thing, of course, corporate actions are another matter entirely.

The assessment, Ford says, helped identify a link between environmental issues and human rights issues, all vaguely described. Ford says it will now work “to develop an action plan to address them.”

“This is the first time that we at Ford have really started to combine human rights issues with environmental issues,” said Mary Wroten, director, corporate sustainability. “What we need to remember is that people and the planet are connected, and that’s what we need to talk more about.”

Based on the assessment, the salient human rights issues identified were:

  • product safety and quality,
  • harassment and discrimination,
  • responsible sourcing of raw materials,
  • health and safety,
  • climate change,
  • air quality,
  • access to water and sanitation,
  • forced labor and child labor.

Ford says air pollution is particularly relevant now to the company’s combustion engine cars – the quality of air impacting on a human’s right to life and human rights, and transport vehicles contribution to climate change can have negative impacts on people and communities.

In the future, Wroten says her goal is to develop action plans to monitor, address and increase engagement on salient issues, to ensure continuous improvement, including management and remediation. Establishing an annual review process to confirm saliency of issues is also something on the list. (AutoInformed bets that cancelling the production of the F-Series is not on the list, grin)

“I would like to conduct a more detailed analysis of these prominent human rights risks in Ford’s 22 priority sourcing locations and engage with regional internal and/or external stakeholders to gain a deeper understanding of local issues,” she said.

About Ken Zino

Ken Zino is an auto industry veteran with global experience in print and electronic media. He has auto testing, marketing, public relations and communications expertise garnered while working in Asia, Europe and the U.S.
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