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Ford begins to make progress on race relations in European factories

November 2000

Ford has appointed three senior diversity managers as part of ongoing work to improve race relations at its European car plants.

The motor company, which was heavily criticised last year for apparently failing to take action over race relations problems at its Dagenham factory in the UK, has brought in former Littlewoods equal opportunities manager Surinder Sharma to head the initiative as European diversity manager.

He is joined by Kamaljeet Jandu as national diversity manager for the UK and Satiya Kartara, diversity manager responsible for the Dagenham plant.

Sharma replaces Alan Holley, who was temporarily given the European role until recruitment consultants could find a suitable candidate.

The move is one of several recommendations put forward by a joint company and trade union steering group that was given the job of outlining a ‘diversity and equality assessment review’ last year.

Since then Ford has given most of its managers – and 1700 workers at Dagenham – new training on equal opportunities. The company is still working on the contents of a new staff guide on harassment, but in the meantime has sent a letter to all UK employees stressing the importance of good race relations.

It has also begun to set up ‘diversity councils’ in each of its 15 UK facilities. The councils, which will be made up of staff, managers and union representatives, will oversee audits of each plant with a view to producing ‘action plans for changes in workplace culture and practices’. These should begin within the next six months.

Earlier this year Ford set up a harassment hotline to serve all its factories and offices in the UK (EP2000, 11). It has also been taking advice from the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE).

The CRE considers that a key practical means of making equality a ‘core’ business issue is to ‘incorporate equality measures into managers’ performance targets.’

An equal opportunities agreement with unions was signed in 1999 after allegations of persistent racist bullying at Ford’s Dagenham plant.




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