One annoying part of trying to get people to understand racism and the need for diversity and inclusion is having those things explained to you by people who have never had to deal with those things in their life. How can you explain something to someone who’s lived through or experienced it when you haven’t? Nothing gets solved that way. As Automotive News reports, Ford is at least saying the right things about who will lead the conversation about diversity and inclusion at the company.
Following the nationwide protests of George Floyd’s murder at the hands of police, Ford gave minority employees the opportunity to voice their concerns to upper management and executives. Executives were allowed to ask questions to get a better understanding, but other than that they had to keep their mouths closed.
....the company began bringing in groups of minority employees for hourlong listening sessions to share their experiences with the automaker’s top leaders. Those executives were allowed to ask clarifying questions but were otherwise instructed not to respond or offer potential solutions to problems; the time belonged to the employees.
According to Ford, the sessions helped employees feel like they had finally been heard with Ford’s chief diversity officer claiming employees felt “that it was the most impactful hour of their entire career.”
During a diversity and inclusion panel that included Ford and reps from companies like Toyota and Continental, Continental’s president Robert Lee said that the companies should do more than just listen, they should act:
We can wish for a lot of things, but at some point, you have to put a budget behind it to make sure there’s some action behind it. You have to set real, challenging targets for the organization to make sure it’s moving in the right direction.”
Although a move in the right direction, it’s not at all surprising that companies are just now coming around to the fact that maybe it’s a good idea for them to actually listen and try to change, rather than pay lipservice to things they won’t actually do. Hopefully, the companies follow through.