Ford became the first automaker to announce a saliency assessment, which was performed in line with the UN Guiding Principles Reporting Framework. The assessment served to identify Ford’s most salient human rights issues and those who are likely to be most affected negatively through the company’s activities and business relationships.
Ford is the first such vehicle manufacturer to conduct such an assessment, and through performing this assessment, identified nine human rights issues relevant to the company. Conducting the assessment, helped the company to identify a link between environmental issues and human rights issues, and start working on an action plan to help solve these issues.
Commenting on the assessment, Mary Wroten, director, corporate sustainability said that this was the first time that Ford corelated human rights issues to environmental issues and she went on to emphasize the need to talk more about how people and the planet are connected.
The salient human rights issues that were identified based on the assessment included 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.
Caroline Rees, president of Shift said that meaningful action calls for prioritizing. A company needs to identify and disclosing its salient human rights issues which put people at risk to know where to direct its resources and to help build trust and enable more practical internal and external conversations about progress made over time.
David Schilling, senior program director at Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, said that Ford completed a comprehensive saliency assessment to identify human rights issues in cases where the company’s activities and business relationships might have a negative impact.
Two of the issues that were referenced regularly but were missing from the initial list were air pollution and climate change. The issue of air pollution is particularly relevant for Ford when it comes to its combustion engine cars. The quality of air has a significant impact on a human’s right to life and human rights. Transport vehicles can have a negative impact on climate change, ultimately having a negative impact on people and communities.
Commenting on the results of the assessment, Kim Pittel, Ford group vice president, sustainability, environment and safety engineering said that it is important for Ford as a company to continue to strive for improvement in the environment, for the sake of those who live in it. She said that Ford needs to come up with action plans to monitor, address and increase engagement on the salient issues that have been identified during the assessment, including management and remediation.
Wroten said that her goal for the future is to develop action plans to monitor, address and increase engagement on salient issues, to ensure continuous improvement, including management and remediation. Another goal is to establish an annual review process to confirm the saliency of issues.
“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.
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