By Sue Cischke
July 30, 2009
For many companies, the effort to “go green” with sustainable practices is not just a passing trend- it’s a permanent way of doing business. At Ford Motor Company, we have recognized for years the need to integrate sustainability into everything we do, and in today’s economic and environmental climate it is more important than ever. It is not only work we can feel good about, but from a business perspective, it’s an absolute necessity.
Ford looks at sustainability as a business model that creates value consistent with the long term preservation and enhancement of environmental, social and financial capital, or put more simply- meeting the needs of the present without compromising the future.
The entire auto industry is undergoing profound change in the midst of the most challenging economic times we have seen in decades. We are transforming everything we do from our product mix to our manufacturing footprint.
We set clear goals and hold ourselves accountable to deliver on objectives for the business and for customers. Each year we produce a public sustainability report. We recognize sustainability issues have grown increasingly important to all stakeholders including customers, investors and business partners. An annual sustainability report is one way to keep them informed on the sustainability path we have set and how we are working to remain on that path.
Consumers do want to know that companies are being environmentally responsible in both their business operations and the products they bring to market. That is why we developed a blueprint for sustainability-a practical, realistic strategy for the near-, mid- and long-term.
Building on a long history of innovation, our sustainability strategy calls for the introduction of a range of global environmental technologies that will offer consumers a choice of more fuel-efficient vehicles that emit fewer greenhouse gases without compromising their expectations for safety, quality, interior room or performance.
Affordability is critical, and we are committed to offering affordable solutions for consumers and for our business. These must be practical, affordable solutions-not for hundreds of cars, not for thousands of cars, but for millions of cars. That is how Ford can truly make a difference.
Sustainability also encompasses how we make products. Over the years, we have cut global water use by 24 percent and improved the energy efficiency of North American facilities by 4.5 percent. We continue to set the bar higher as each year Ford’s manufacturing management sets environmental targets for all of our facilities.
And sustainability is a very real part of the social fabric of the communities where we do business. The Ford Code of Basic Working Conditions governs operations in global facilities and requires suppliers to ensure that products-no matter where they are made-are manufactured under conditions that demonstrate respect for the people who make them.
To build strong, sustainable communities requires investing in them. Although challenging business conditions affected the amount Ford Motor Company Fund was able to provide in grants, the Fund and other corporate giving programs supported hundreds of organizations. Employees contribute as well, through the Ford Volunteer Corps, with 24,000 hours of work done on community service projects last year.
There are countless ways corporations can seek to become more sustainable in every sense of the word. The beginning steps are simple:
-¢ Start with a commitment from the top.
-¢ Integrate sustainability goals in every facet of the business.
-¢ Join in the dialogue surrounding environmental, policy and community issues.
-¢ Deepen your understanding of how those issues affect your business.
-¢ Set clear goals.
-¢ Be accountable.
Why do it? Because in the end, we all know that sustainability is what customers want, what society requires and what business demands.
Susan M. Cischke has been group vice president, Sustainability, Environment and Safety Engineering, for Ford Motor Company since April 2008. Cischke is responsible for establishing Ford Motor Company’s long range sustainability strategy and environmental policy.