World's Most Ethical Companies: Analyzing Ford Motor Company
The Ford Motor Company, herein referred to as Ford, is a U.S.-based multinational manufacturer of transportation vehicles, particularly luxury cars and commercial trucks. It was formed by Henry Ford in 1903 and has its headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan. The company currently ranks second among America's largest automakers; and is fifth in Europe, and eighth in the world. Cisco Systems, one of its largest technological partners, acknowledges that the company's high-level moral consciousness in the treatment of its stakeholders has contributed to its success year after year. This text outlines the various ways through which Ford demonstrates its moral responsibility to different stakeholders and examines how these acts contribute to the company's overall success.
Ford's Moral Responsibility towards Customers
Organizations have a moral responsibility to ensure that customers receive value for their money and are kept satisfied through high-quality products. Ford goes out of its way to ensure the satisfaction of its customers, both product-wise and relationship-wise (Cisco Systems, 2007). The company acknowledges that consumers needs have evolved, and most of them now prefer cleaner and more fuel-efficient vehicles (Ford Motor Company, 2012). Ford has continually ensured that its products respond to these customer needs - the most recent effort being the release of the C-Max Solar Energi concept, a sun-powered vehicle that according to Mike Tinskey, the global director of vehicle electrification and infrastructure, would "reduce the annual greenhouse gas emissions a typical owner would produce by four metric tons" (Ford Motor Company, 2014).
Additionally, Ford commits itself to ensuring that customers have access to accurate information, and are in turn able to make informed choices on purchases (Cisco Systems, 2007). Through its interactive self-service websites at www.customersaskford.com and www.dealersaskford.com, Ford is able to provide real-time responses and clarification to questions raised by dealers and customers (Cisco Systems, 2007). The company also runs a chat room and a number of car-related blogs, through which personnel are able to not only obtain customer feedback, but also assess customer satisfaction levels and make recommendations to management (Cisco Systems, 2007).
Ford's Moral Responsibility to the Environment
Every organization has a moral duty to protect the natural environment within which it operates, and hence, the health of the surrounding community. In its sustainability report 2012/13, Ford declares its commitment to reducing the harm caused by climate change; and puts forth a plan to reduce CO2 emissions by 30% - from 2010 to 2025. This commitment to environmental protection has been demonstrated in a number of ways, the first being the reduction of CO2 emissions from the company's operations in the U.S. And Europe by 15% and 14% respectively between 2007 and 2012; and globally by 1% (Ford Motor Company, 2012). These reductions have been due to the release of a number of environmentally friendly products, including the C-Max Solar Energi mentioned previously, the Fusion Energi, and the Focus Electric (Ford Motor Company, 2012). Moreover, Ford has expressed its commitment to support climate change policies, pledging to work together with all relevant stakeholders to ensure the development of comprehensive frameworks for reducing greenhouse gas emissions (Ford Motor Company, 2012).
Ford's Moral Responsibility towards Employees
Organizations have a moral responsibility to ensure the safety of employees, reward them fairly, and provide them with opportunities for personal development. Ford acknowledges its employees as its most valuable asset (Ford Motor Company, 2012). In its Health and Safety vision, the company expresses its aspiration to "achieve zero fatalities and no serious injuries, and to protect and continually improve the health of" its workforce (Ford Motor Company, 2012). In actualizing this vision, the company runs a wellness program referred to as the ONE Ford Healthcare Strategy, which seeks to improve the health of not only salaried employees, but also their families by providing tools and resources to empower/educate employees and guide them towards making informed decisions about healthcare coverage and services (Ford Motor Company, 2012). The program's equivalent, referred to as the Enhanced Care Program, caters for the company's hourly workforce. In this case, employees are assigned a nurse care manager who guides them towards achieving their healthcare goals (Ford Motor Company, 2012).
The company makes use of external and internal benchmarking in establishing safe working conditions for its workforce, and putting in place "appropriate safeguards for potentially hazardous conditions" (Ford Motor Company, 2012). Procedural controls and personal protective equipment such as masks are used to protect employees from exposures and accidents (Ford Motor Company, 2012). Internally, the company's annual President's Health and Safety Award Program provides platforms for plants to learn from each other's various programs and procedures for assessing and managing risk. On an external front, the company participates in a multi-industry group program, where participants share information on occupational health and safety improvement practices for replication (Ford Motor Company, 2012).
The company also engages its employees in a series of interactive forums, ranging from diversity councils to joint labor-management committees; intranet chats and surveys; and town hall meetings, giving them opportunities to influence the company's working practices and conditions (Ford Motor Company, 2012). Furthermore, employees are given opportunities to enhance their personal skill levels through teamwork, social networking, coaching and mentoring, task forces, special projects, experiential learning and training facilities (Ford Motor Company, 2012).
Effects of Moral Consciousness on Ford's Bottom-line
Ethical behavior has a lot to do with organizational success, especially in an increasingly competitive marketplace (Thomas, Schermerhorn & Dienhart, 2004). Thanks to the invention of the internet and the benefits of globalization, consumers have a wide variety of suppliers to choose from; and would obviously give priority to one who displays ethical behavior, be it in the treatment of employees, consumers, or the natural environment (Thomas, Schermerhorn & Dienhart, 2004). There are a number of benefits that Ford, for instance, stands to enjoy from its high level of moral consciousness.
To begin with, there are deemed to be significant cost-savings, particularly because by behaving in a morally responsible manner, the company avoids the additional costs in the form of legal fees or fines that result from legal battles with employee unions or consumer and human right groups. Secondly, morally responsible behavior earns an organization a positive reputation. People, both employees and customers, prefer to be associated with a reputable organization. In the long-run, therefore, the organization would achieve both customer and employee loyalty, and essentially avoid the costs that come with having to create the same. Finally, ethical behavior gives a company a competitive edge over its competitors and places it in a better position to sway customers and increase its market share through low-cost marketing techniques such as word-of-mouth advertising and customer referrals. In the end, therefore, morally responsible behavior reduces costs and increases profitability.
Ways in which the Company could improve its Treatment:
Of the Environment: currently, much of Ford's focus with regard to environmental protection is in the reduction of CO2 emissions. However, this policy only focuses on the aspect of clean air. The company noticeably ignores the other three aspects of environmental protection -- energy, water, and waste. A more comprehensive environmental policy would be more effective in guiding the company towards becoming a world leader in environmental protection. Volvo, for instance, developed a program to minimize solvent emissions, while at the same time reducing their products' fuel and water consumption levels, as well as waste to landfill, and the noise level of their wheel loaders (Volvo Group, 2012).
Of Employees: the company currently conducts a Pulse Survey every year to determine how satisfied employees are with their respective jobs (Ford Motor Company, 2012). The survey results are then incorporated into the planning review and used as a guide for policy-formulation (Ford Motor Company, 2012). The same procedure could be applied to obtain employee views on the organization's policies and programs, which would…