At Ford, diversity is "part of everything we do"
After an austere season, this automotive industry leader is back in the game, seeking qualified engineers and IT pros to fill many different jobs
If the performance of Ford Motor Co is an indicator, job hunters should take heart. After an austere season, this automotive industry leader is back in the game, seeking qualified engineers and IT pros to fill "many different openings in the system," says Tom Gualdoni, manager of business ops.
Ford started to see the need for increased hiring in early 2010. Since then, "The overall demand for new employees has been growing exponentially. I'm happy to say we have a lot of openings across all aspects of our business," Gualdoni says. With a lot of qualified job seekers on the market, the company has found "extremely talented people," he notes.
Ford also has seen "tremendous growth" in China and India. "We're recruiting heavily in China for local nationals. We recently brought a few graduating Chinese students here on visas. We'll give them some experience in the U.S., and expect them to return to China as Ford of China employees," Gualdoni says.
Workforce diversity is a continuing focus. Ford recruits on campuses with a high population of minorities, Gualdoni says. The company also works with professional organizations like the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) and the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and is partnering with the Obama administration to more effectively identify and recruit veterans.
Pam Paglino is HR manager for salaried personnel. She notes that when salaried employees first come on board they go through several online training modules, including the diversity-
inspired area of mutual respect. Different versions are used depending on where the Ford branch is in the world.
"There are subtle nuances around the concept of diversity and everything else that has to do with having respect for people. Valuing those differences is the next phase," Paglino says.
Ford has a number of useful tools, such as a "cultural navigator tool" for employees going on international assignments and others working on multinational teams. "We recommend they understand more about a variety of cultures, particularly in today's world," Paglino reveals.
About five years ago Ford chose to integrate the diversity discussion into its monthly executive personnel committee, made up of the CEO and direct reports. Conversations revolve around trends in HR practices, including diversity, Paglino says.
"Diversity is part of everything we do. Our philosophy is to make sure executives are well-versed, but this is not a separate effort. We feel that diversity and inclusion should be included in everything from a policy-making standpoint."
Throughout the company, particularly in emerging markets, diversity councils are still valued because they bring together people from different areas. Ford has eleven employee resource groups: a Veterans' Network; Ford Employees Dealing with Disabilities; Ford Parenting Network; Globe (gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender); Ford African Ancestry Network; Ford Chinese Association; Ford Professional Women's Network; Middle Eastern Community at Ford; Hispanic Network; Ford Asian Indian Association and the Ford Interfaith Network. They all have executive sponsors, and network group leaders sit down monthly to brainstorm with members of Paglino's team.
Paglino notes that the Interfaith Network is unique. Affinity groups for Christians, Jews, Muslims and Hindus are still in place, but the Interfaith Network brings them all together. "They have a descriptive process for their governance; no one religion has more say than another. This was about creating more cultural understanding," Paglino says. She adds that of all the multicultural events at Ford, the Interfaith group's are "the most diverse."
The employee groups also participate in community outreach. The Hispanic group has adopted a park near Detroit; the Ford Volunteer Corps is a global effort. It has a fulltime director and teams around the world that coordinate help whenever the company becomes aware of needs.
Employees are also given paid time to use toward local community service, from helping centers for blind children and homeless shelters to cleanup at the Detroit Zoo.
Around the world, Ford employees participate in everything from large-scale projects to individual local efforts. A volunteer corps was started after 9/11; since then, 27,000 Ford employees and retirees have logged more than 112,000 hours on community service projects.
Mentoring at Ford is provided through the corporate organization, and less formally by employee groups. Paglino's office sponsors a website listing informal mentoring opportunities. There are also some formal external mentoring programs like Menttium 100 for women and Menttium Ladders for up-and-coming executive candidates. "Around the world, various areas have their own formal programs," Paglino adds.
Last year Ford piloted an initiative it wants to continue in 2012. It's a "phased retirement program" offering people nearing retirement a chance to work part time for six months. "They are preparing themselves for life after retirement, and the company gets the benefit of an extra-long transition for the people who will take on their responsibilities. It ensures a good knowledge turnover from people who have been here thirty or forty years," Paglino says.
There are many work-life balance benefits at Ford. In the Dearborn, MI area Ford participates with the Safe at Home Network for emergency childcare. Eldercare information is available through the company's employee assistance program.
The manufacturing plants have workout facilities and gyms. There's also a gym in Dearborn that employees can join free. The company offers alternative work schedules, compressed workweeks, part-time work with benefits, flextime and telecommuting.
Ford Motor Co