In the automotive industry, it is difficult to assure that the extraction and original production of raw materials is done responsibly, because these processes occur so far up our supply chain and, therefore, are far outside of Ford’s direct control. Nonetheless, we are actively engaging with our industry, stakeholders and direct suppliers to address the risk of human rights abuses, including forced labor and human trafficking, deep in our supply chain.
A range of products and materials sourced from specific geographies have been identified and described by the U.S. Department of Labor as posing potential human rights concerns. Included on this list is charcoal from Brazil, which can be used to make pig iron, a key ingredient in steel production.
We take a proactive approach to addressing human rights concerns associated with these materials. Our response to the discovery that charcoal made with slave labor had entered our supply chain provides an example of how seriously we take this issue. It also exemplifies our approach to addressing the issue.
In 2006, Ford discovered that charcoal produced in Brazil with the use of slave labor had found its way into our supply chain through our purchase of pig iron. When we learned of the situation, we immediately stopped sourcing from the site that was identified in the investigation, but we continued dialogue with the supplier and helped them to develop management systems until such time as the supplier could ensure it was not supporting forced labor in the supply chain for pig iron. We then identified all potential points of entry for pig iron in the Ford value chain and engaged with all relevant suppliers, seeking assurances from them that forced labor was not employed anywhere in their value chain. This included an intensive mapping of five to six tiers of suppliers (including importers, exporters and trading companies) (see pig iron supply chain illustration below). We also requested additional detail regarding our Tier 1 suppliers’ systems for safeguarding human rights throughout their operations, including procurement. We continue to remain vigilant on this and other potential opportunities for slave labor or human trafficking to occur in our supply chain.
In addition to working with our suppliers to ensure responsible procurement of this material, we also work with the U.S. State Department, the International Labour Organization and the governing committee of the Brazil’s National Pact to Eradicate Slave Labour to seek multilateral solutions that will help to validate information and improve transparency. Ultimately, we hope to enable responsible purchasing decisions throughout the supply chain.
Beginning in 2012, many companies manufacturing or selling products in the state of California are required to disclose their efforts (if any) to address the issue of forced labor and human trafficking, per the California Transparency in Supply Chains Act of 2010 (SB 657). This law was designed to increase the amount of information made available by companies, thereby allowing consumers to make better, more informed choices regarding the products they buy and the companies they choose to support.
Forced labor and human trafficking can take many forms, including child labor. Our Policy Letter 24: Code of Human Rights, Basic Working Conditions and Corporate Responsibility, makes it clear that we will not tolerate forced labor or child labor in our operations and we conduct internal audits of our manufacturing locations to ensure compliance We have instituted a number of actions to safeguard against human rights abuses, including forced labor in our supply chain. For example:
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