FoMoCo's Way Forward II: Way Out Of Ford?


It's approaching the middle of September. Kids are going back to school, the leaves are beginning to turn, football's on the tube and most importantly — it's time for FoMoCo to deliver to the world its second iteration of the Maoist Way Forward, to explain how Ford's gonna survive to see next autumn. With new President and CEO Alan Mulally making the transition from "plane guy" to "car guy" and Bill Ford moving from CEO, President, Chairman, COO, All-Powerful, etc to just plain Chairman — we're wondering how well folks are doing over there in the focus department. There have already been reports that one major leader over in Dearborn is thinking of hitting the exits — and there may be more who'll be following her. Anne Stevens, who so far has played a central role as one of the CWFO's (Chief Way Forward Officers) on former Big Boss Bill Ford's inner cabinet of advisors, may be looking at making a Bold Move of her own and...

...making an exit, stage left. Stevens is considered to be one of the higher-ranking female execs in the business — and we're sure there's all sorts of possibilities for her outside of the glass house. The most talked about bold move has her taking the Chief Exec job over at Carpenter Technology Corporation down in Pennsylvania. There have also been rumors that Mark Fields may not make it through the fall — but it may be less his decision and more the decision of his new boss.

But wait, if she's thinking of leaving, and if Fields is looking for a potential exit, stage left — that can't bode well for this month's new iteration of the "Way Foward" plan — a plan the Detroit News is reporting will include a widening of salaried job cuts starting with an offer of voluntary buyout packages and early-retirement incentives to...white-collar workers? Wait a second, we thought that if they were white-collar workers you could just fire them whenever you wanted — what the hell is this "buyout" crap? Oh but wait, if not enough people take the packages, involuntary layoffs are likely to follow. So what FoMoCo is planning on doing is to give people the option to leave and if they don't leave, they'll fire them? Why not just fire them? This feels to us like someone's a bit too close to all of this, like someone who maybe feels like everyone's family to them — someone like Bill Ford perhaps?

But, the Detroit News has an explanation for why they'll be trying the "voluntary" route first, and actually it makes a lot of sense:

According to compensation expert John Challenger of Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc. in Chicago, offering early retirement buyouts is a way of shielding the company from potential age discrimination lawsuits.

After the last round of white-collar layoffs in February, Ford was sued by several former employees who accused the company of singling them out because of their age.

Challenger said companies would rather pick and choose who gets the ax based on performance. However, if too many older workers are on that list, offering buyouts can be a safer strategy.

"It limits their legal exposure," Challenger said, though he added that offering early retirement incentives may prompt talented workers to leave the company, too. "It is a tough decision. They're trying to find their way out of the thicket of problems they've got, but they don't want to lose good performers."

The News is also reporting this round of cuts will be deeper than the 4,000 white collar jobs eliminated in the first quarter of this year — which represent over 10% of salaried employees in the US and with reports coming of inquiries to headhunters coming from top execs andsenior managers in charge of some key departments. In fact, it's gotten so bad Ford's gone and hired a new executive recruiting firm, Korn/Ferry International to help it deal with the movement way away from FoMoCo. This comes after the ol' and busted exec recruitment company, Heindrick & Struggles, refused to rebid on the contract, supposedly because FoMoCo wanted a promise that it wouldn't do searches for any other automakers. Obvs that they weren't gonna agree to that — especially considering the number of execs with their eyes on the exits over at the glass house.

Either way — whether through voluntary buyouts (more than likely) or involuntary layoffs (less than likely), we'll be interested to see where FoMoCo's gonna go this week — and how America's #2 MoCo will fare this month during what'll probably be a bloody September.

Ford to widen salaried job cuts [Detroit News]
Managers see leaving Ford as a better idea [Detroit News]
Top executive may leave Ford [Detroit News]

Related:
Double Breaking! Ford Earnings Restatement Doubles Second Quarter Loss; ToMoCo Is The New FoMoCo: Toyota Passes Ford As #2 US Automaker; Breaking! FoMoCo Makes Bold Move, Says Fuck You To Straight Talk And Switches Sales Graphic; FoMoCo Says Mo' Cuts Coming: Ford Looking For A Way Forward [internal]