Taking care of business—and businesses taking care.
In our work at the Business Ethics Alliance, we’ve seen this topic of discussion among large and small companies alike. It can be tricky, and there is no single right answer. How companies deal with this issue is as varied as the types of companies that exist. What companies want to avoid are policies that no one knows about or follows.
Ford Motor Company enjoys the longest ever streak (2010-2017) of being named one of the World’s Most Ethical Companies by the Ethisphere Institute, an independent organization devoted to defining and measuring corporate ethics standards. Several of those years fell under the tenure of Raphael Richmond, Ford’s Global Director of Compliance.
Richmond’s mission for Ford’s ethical culture can be summed up in five words: “Go Further—The Right Way.” One step along that right way for the company has been the development of a smartphone app. “We know that in our fast-paced world, in order to be successful as an ethical company, we must make it as easy as possible for employees to do the right thing, and as hard as possible to do the wrong thing,” she says. That’s why Ford decided that an app with short summaries of key policies, frequently asked questions, and a decision-making tree was the perfect fit for their global workforce. The Right Way app also includes a reporting feature, which employees can use to report suspected violations directly to Richmond’s compliance team.
Ford also knows what it’s like to weather an ethics-related controversy and begin to rebuild trust. In 2017, the New York Times published their investigation into unsettling accounts of sexual harassment and retaliation at Ford plants in Chicago. CEO Jim Hackett, in an open letter to employees, said that “it was gut wrenching to read the accounts of these women,” adding, “This has been a learning experience about how difficult it can be to root out bad behavior.” Hackett’s sentiment might be less than comforting to employees who made repeated complaints about harassment and abuse to Ford and to union representatives, but it also signals the motivation for a new kind of reporting mechanism. Tools like AllVoices, STOPit, tEQitable, and Callisto, which have emerged in the wake of the #MeToo movement, are designed to send aggregated complaint data directly to the C-suite. While some suggest this strategy may be problematic, it could be one more avenue toward accountability.
Read more about Ford and the integration of technology into ethics and compliance programs in our curated resources below.
You can access our Spring Ethics Luncheon Event Packet here
Ford’s The Right Way app is available for free download via public app stores on mobile phones and tablets by searching “Ford Motor The Right Way.” Because Ford considers compliance to be a community project, they are pleased to offer the application’s source code and content under an open source license for any entity that might find it useful. The information can be accessed at one of the following sites:
The websites contain a README.md file describing how to use, build, run, and test the application. You will also find a LICENSE file containing the license agreement for the software and a CONTRIBUTING .md file explaining how to contribute software modifications to the application. If you have any questions about downloading the code, please reach out to their Intellectual Property team at FGTAdmin@ford.com.
Ford’s only request is that you share any feedback about The Right Way application with them – including any cool new ideas you might come up with to enhance the experience. Ford will also use any feedback you share about the process to improve The Right Way application’s content, availability, and code.
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