Policy Letters and Directives

Policy Letters establish a framework of broad, basic principles within which the Company conducts its business globally. Corporate Directives provide more in-depth information on narrower topics than Policy Letters, and therefore may only apply to a particular segment of the business, or specific activities. In addition to Policy Letters and Directives, numerous descriptions of business practices, handbooks, guidelines and statements of business standards govern the conduct of employees globally.

The following are Ford standards with particular relevance to sustainability.

Human Rights

Ford’s commitment to human rights is embodied in our Code of Basic Working Conditions (CBWC), which forms the foundation of our own operations and supply chain and our collaboration with others in the industry. The CBWC articulates our commitments on key human and labor rights issues. In effect since 2003, it was more formally adopted as a Policy Letter in 2007.

The CBWC is based on fundamental elements of internationally recognized labor standards, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, International Labour Organization Covenants, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, the United Nations’ Global Compact Principles, the Global Sullivan Principles, and standards of the Fair Labor Association and International Metalworkers’ Federation. Ford encourages businesses throughout our supply chain to adopt and enforce similar policies, and seeks to identify and do business with organizations that conduct their businesses to standards that are consistent with the CBWC.

The CBWC covers workplace issues such as working hours, child labor and forced labor. It also reflects our increasingly integrated approach to managing human rights and community issues by articulating our commitments on several key issues that extend beyond the fencelines of our facilities, including community engagement and indigenous populations, bribery and corruption, and environment and sustainability. We actively promote and assess implementation in our own operations and in our supply chain.

We encourage employees who have a good-faith belief that there may have been a violation of this Code to report it through established channels, which vary by region, or to Ford’s Office of the General Counsel. These reports are then forwarded to the Manager of Human Rights, who takes action to clarify, validate and correct the situation, if necessary. No retaliatory actions are taken against employees who report concerns about violations of the CBWC.

We are continually looking to improve the Code, and we welcomed the opportunity in 2010 to comment on the guiding principles for the implementation of the “protect, respect and remedy” framework designed by John Ruggie, Special Representative to the United Nations Secretary General on business and human rights at the international level. Ford is eager to implement many of these recommendations, and we are using the principles to benchmark our own strategies.

Another way we can continue to lead in human rights business practices is to go beyond compliance and focus on critical issues that impact our business. “Women Connect” is a U.S. State Department project managed by the Secretary of State’s Office of Global Women’s Issues. “Women Connect” is focused on women’s empowerment and providing women living in small communities access to digital information, business resources, health services (including food and water) and education. The State Department believes this project can successfully create actionable, on-the-ground initiatives to increase access to mobile connectivity and services to women living on less than $2 per day. Through this project, Ford plans to provide technology to strengthen local capacities and expand best practices.


We are committed to equal opportunity in all aspects of our business and to fostering diversity in our workforce. Our Policy Letter and related Directives address equal opportunity and require that there be no disparate treatment because of race, religion, color, age, sex, national origin, disability, gender identity, sexual orientation or veteran status, and/or other factors that may be covered by local law. We recognize that diversity in our workforce is a valuable asset, and we strive to provide an inclusive work environment in which different ideas, perspectives and beliefs are respected.

Bribery and Corruption

Our Policy Letters and Directives govern integrity within Ford and state that it is our policy to comply fully with the laws of each country in which we do business. Further, no employee may agree to, make or solicit, for their benefit or that of the Company, any improper payments or other improper benefits, directly or indirectly, to or from any government or government agency official, legislator or other government employee or person purporting to represent government agencies. Employees and contract personnel must immediately report through the Company reporting system any requests or solicitations for an improper payment, except in countries where mandatory reporting is restricted.

Political Contributions

Ford’s Policy Letter on governmental relationships covers issues relating to public policy and political contributions. These issues are discussed in depth in our Public Policy section.

Customer Satisfaction and Safety

Ford has several policy statements aimed at increasing the quality of our products and promoting the safety of our customers. Our Policy Letter on quality sets the foundation for a process that emphasizes the importance of quality in everything we do and notes that the customer defines quality. It establishes a Quality Operating System and the use of metrics and data to make decisions. Our Policy Letter on vehicle safety sets forth Ford’s commitment to design and build vehicles that meet or exceed applicable laws and regulations, and to advance the state of the art in safety wherever practicable. We strive for continuous improvement in vehicle safety, which applies to accident avoidance attributes as well as occupant protection systems. This policy requires that we will be demonstrably active and responsible in all areas of automotive safety, including vehicle design and manufacture, operator behavior and the highway environment.

Environment and Employee Health and Safety

Our policies on health, safety and the environment make clear that sustainable economic development is important to the future welfare of Ford and society in general. Protection of employee health and safety and the environment are important considerations in the business decisions we make. These factors are integral parts of the planning process. Our products, services, processes and facilities are planned and operated to incorporate objectives and targets and are periodically reviewed to minimize to the extent practical the creation of waste, pollution and any adverse impact on employee health, safety or the environment. Protection of health, safety and the environment is a Company-wide responsibility of employees at all levels.


The trust and confidence of our customers are important to Ford Motor Company and essential to building long-term relationships and delivering excellent products and personalized services. The Company recognizes that customers, employees and others have concerns about privacy and expect us to protect and handle personal information responsibly.

Ford is committed to implementing responsible privacy and data-handling practices. The Company’s Policy Letters and related Directives are designed to ensure the continuing trust and confidence of individuals who entrust us with personal information.

Social Media Interactions

The recent proliferation of social media – such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, as well as blogs and other Web-based discussion forums – has led us to examine our policies relating to employees’ use of these technologies. We encourage responsible employee participation in social media, and have developed “digital participation guidelines” for employees. (Guidelines provide guidance on how Policy Letters and Directives apply in a given area.) In addition, we have online training that helps employees understand how to adhere to these guidelines. For more, see the case study on social media.