Supply Chain Sustainability Manager – Conflict Minerals Compliance, Ford Motor Company
“We are still in the process of identifying the origins of tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold (3TG) in our supply chain. At this point, there is one thing that we can say with certainty: All of our vehicles contain 3TG. Tin, for example, can be found in any number of vehicle-related components, from seat cushions to electronics to windshield glass.”
Before talking about conflict minerals and Ford’s supply chain, I’d first like to provide some background on my journey at Ford. I have been with Ford for 25 years and began working in Supply Chain Sustainability in 2012. Since then, I have gained an appreciation for all of Ford’s efforts to ensure we are doing the right thing. I am inspired by Bill Ford’s commitment to sustainability and I am excited to be contributing to the good work Ford is doing to protect the environment and to respect human rights around the world.
When I was selected as the lead person responsible for Ford’s conflict minerals compliance, I quickly dove into all of the written materials I could get my hands on. In addition to the 350-plus pages of conflict minerals legislation mandated here in the U.S., I read about the human atrocities happening in the Congo. I also began engaging with the Automotive Industry Action Group and other multi-stakeholder groups to learn from others. The question I kept asking myself was this: How could this type of suffering be taking place? And, even more important, what can we, as a company, do about it? This explains how my sustainability journey started and it has been exciting and rewarding ever since.
Now, let me dive into the subject at hand – conflict minerals and the efforts Ford is undertaking to help end the violence in the Congo. The four minerals in question – cassiterite, columbite-tantalite, wolframite and gold, whose common derivatives are tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold (3TG) – can be mined all over the world. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo and adjoining countries, the mining of these minerals is frequently used to fund violent conflict and contributes to significant humanitarian abuses.
Not all mining from the Congo is contributing to conflict, however. There are many responsibly run operations whose workers depend on mining of these minerals to support their families. It is important that actions taken by Ford and our suppliers do not disadvantage responsible mining operations in the region.
My role here at Ford is to make sure that our company is sourcing these minerals responsibly, and that we are fulfilling the new mandatory reporting requirements of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Starting in May 2014, and annually thereafter, we are required to determine if our products contain 3TG and, if so, we must conduct due diligence to determine where the minerals are coming from and if they are sourced responsibly. We must file a specialized disclosure (Form SD) and conflict mineral report with the SEC describing our due diligence efforts.
It’s hard to express what an enormous undertaking this is for a company with a supply chain as broad, as deep and as complex as ours. We are layers removed from the smelters and refiners in our supply chain; therefore, we must survey our direct suppliers and request our suppliers, in turn, to survey their suppliers until the point many layers down in the supply chain where the smelter or refiner of the 3TG is known. Once the smelters or refiners are identified and reported to us, we then work with the cross-industry Conflict-Free Sourcing Initiative to determine if the smelters have been confirmed to be conflict free. Smelters must pass an independent third-party audit to earn such a designation.
It is imperative that industries, governments and nongovernmental organizations work collaboratively to develop workable solutions that make a meaningful difference in this human rights crisis. I believe Ford is demonstrating leadership by helping to develop robust reporting and validation infrastructure leading to increased supply chain transparency.
We are still in the process of identifying the origins of 3TG in our supply chain. At this point, there is one thing that we can say with certainty: All of our vehicles contain 3TG. Tin, for example, can be found in any number of vehicle-related components, from seat cushions to electronics to windshield glass.
Thankfully, we have not, to date, identified any products that contain conflict minerals that have contributed to conflict in the Congo; however, more work is required to identify the origin of all of the 3TG in our products.
We want to do our part and fully support the humanitarian goal of ending violent conflict in the Congo. I am proud to be the team leader driving this important effort. (Read more about our conflict minerals work.)
© 2014 Ford Motor Company