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Ford warned to get race relations sorted or face investigation


A Formal Investigation into the Ford Motor Company by the Commission for Racial Equality has been put on hold following assurances that the company is taking effective action to change.

The Commission agreed to suspend its decision to carry out a Formal Investigation following assurances by Ford bosses that the company would comply with stringent conditions for improvement within a tight timetable for action.

Following a meeting between the Chairman of Ford Europe Nick Scheele and CRE Commissioners last week, Ford has agreed to:

Agree the terms for a wide-ranging diversity and equality assessment review of its race equality practices by 13 October 2000.

Complete that review by 12 April 2001.

Work with the CRE to develop a strategy to implement required changes identified by the review, and set out an Action Plan for improvement.

Establish clear, independent means for verifiable measurement of effective and lasting cultural change in terms of management and staff behaviour.

Put in place new fast track procedures for dealing with incidents of discrimination and complaints by staff.

Develop a clear framework for ensuring corporate leadership and accountability for the delivery of these outcomes.
Ray Singh, a CRE Commissioner involved in the Investigation said:

"The structure of Ford of Europe is such that in order to be fully satisfied that the terms on which we are prepared to suspend this investigation are likely to be complied with we needed to meet with the Chairman of Ford of Europe.

"This meeting was very positive, and I feel confident that there will be clear direction from the top of the organisation to ensure that equality and diversity issues are taken seriously at every level and that the actions we are looking for should happen.

"If the timetable is not met or if in any other way there is not full compliance, then we will need to reconsider whether the investigation by the Commission should proceed."

Chairman of Ford Europe, Nick Scheele, said:

"I welcome the positive and constructive approach adopted by the CRE, and look forward to working with Commissioner Ray Singh, Commissioner Julie Mellor and the other members of the CRE team on an ongoing basis to help further advance the principle of race equality and diversity within Ford of Britain. We have agreed to meet again at the end of this year to review progress.

"I want to stress my own personal abhorrence of unfair discrimination and to underline again Ford's global policy of intolerance of harassment of any kind. The diversity of our people is a key strength for Ford and one that I am fully committed to fostering."

The CRE decision to use its statutory powers of Formal Investigation in relation to Ford relied in part on evidence of racial discrimination and failure by the company to take effective action in response to complaints of racial harassment in the case of Parmar -v- Ford Motor Co.


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