Ford, stung by a series of lawsuits and a lengthy New York Times piece examining allegations of rampant sexual harassment and racial discriminations in its two Chicago plants, is countering with a nationwide campaign meant to notify employees in all 24 of its U.S. factories of its workplace policies and how to report wrongdoing.
A 2-minute, 40-second video, captioned to reach workers in noisy work stations, will run on continuous loop on monitors typically used to highlight safety updates and other worker issues, the Detroit Free Press reports. About 56,000 hourly UAW employees work in Ford's 24 U.S. plants.
The video features Bruce Hettle, Ford's group vice president of global manufacturing and labor affairs, and Jimmy Settles, the UAW's vice president assigned to Ford, discussing how to report harassment, discrimination and retaliation.
"Harassment and discrimination undermine the very things we stand for — inclusion, diversity and mutual respect," Settles says in the video. "We are committed to making sure that you aren't subject to that behavior in your workplace."
Adds Hettle, "We want to be very clear: We do not and we will not tolerate harassment or discrimination in any way, shape or form. That may include any inappropriate behavior of a sexual nature between employees. We take all complaints very seriously and investigate each and every report."
In its interactive report, the Times described an environment in which women said they were routinely groped, offered better job assignments in exchange for sex, catcalled and retaliated against when they complained. Some also reported being the victims of racial slurs. It based its report on interviews with more than 100 current and former employees of the Chicago Assembly Plant and Chicago Stamping Plant, among other sources.
Ford spokeswoman Kelli Felker said the company has a "comprehensive approach to prevent and address sexual harassment and discrimination at our facilities" that includes mandatory training for all new hires, an anti-harassment and retaliation policy, and an open-door policy for reporting violations. Ford says it also requires salaried employees to disclose a romantic or familial relationship with another employee in their reporting chain, or whose employment conditions they could influence.