The case for CSR/ Sustainability Reporting Done Responsibly


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Insights on how you can protect the environment, maintain and increase the value of your company, through a structured process.

Home / case studies / Case study: How Ford promotes a culture of compliance and ethics across its operations

Case study: How Ford promotes a culture of compliance and ethics across its operations

Operating in over 100 countries and employing 201,287 people in 71 facilities across the globe, Ford tries to gain the trust of key stakeholder groups by operating responsibly and transparently  Tweet This!, with compliance and ethics as a solid foundation for the company’s business practices and activities.

This case study is based on the 2016/17 Sustainability Report by Ford that can be found at this link. Through all case studies we aim to demonstrate what CSR/ sustainability reporting done responsibly means. Essentially, it means: a) identifying a company’s most important impacts on the environment, economy and society, and b) measuring, managing and changing.

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Making sure ethical business practices are implemented across the company’s operations worldwide is a key priority for Ford, in trying to be a good corporate citizen. In order to promote a culture of compliance and ethics across its operations Ford took action to:

  • provide ethics advice
  • offer ethics and compliance training
  • encourage the reporting of violations
  • fight bribery and corruption

What are the material issues the company has identified?

In its 2016/17 Sustainability Report Ford identified a range of material issues, such as product carbon footprint and fuel economy, customer satisfaction, product quality and safety, supply chain management, assessment, capacity building and performance, government regulation and policy. Among these, promoting a culture of compliance and ethics across its operations stands out as a key material issue for Ford.

Stakeholder engagement in accordance with the GRI Standards

The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) defines the Principle of Stakeholder Inclusiveness when identifying material issues (or a company’s most important impacts) as follows:

“The organization should identify its stakeholders, and explain how it has responded to their reasonable expectations.”

Stakeholders must be consulted in the process of identifying a company’s most important impacts and their reasonable expectations and interests must be taken into account. This is an important cornerstone for CSR / sustainability reporting done responsibly.

Key stakeholder groups Ford engages with:   

Stakeholder Group                Method of engagement
Communities ·         Community Relations Committees

·         Interactions with governments

·         Membership of associations

·         Dialogue with nongovernmental organizations

·         Ford Fund

·         Driving Skills for Life program

Customers ·         Consumer Insight process

·         Market research

·         Customer care programs

·         Dealer interactions

· website

·         Ford owners’ magazine

Dealers ·         Intranet communications

·         Brand sales and service representatives

·         Brand Dealer Councils

·         Dealer roundtables

·         President’s Circle

·         Salute to Dealers

·         Advertising and public service announcements

·         Dealer Attitude Survey



·         Intranet site

·         Sustainability Report and executive summary

·         Social media applications

·         Union representatives

·         Joint labor–management committees

·         Webcasts, videos, blogs and executive Q&A sessions with senior management

·         “Town Hall” meetings

·         Employee surveys

·         Employee Resource Group initiatives

·         Test drive and product reveal events

Investors ·         Investment community forums

·         Quarterly earnings communications

·         Annual shareholders’ meeting

·         Annual report

·         Proxy statement

·         SEC filings (e.g., 10-K, 10-Q, 8-K)

·         Ratings and rankings

Suppliers ·         Top Supplier meetings

·         Ford Partnership for A Cleaner Environment (PACE)

·         Aligned Business Framework supplier dialogue sessions

·         Supplier quality roundtables

·         Supplier Diversity Development Networking

·         External supplier organizations

·         Coalitions including EICC

How stakeholder engagement was made to identify material issues

To prioritize material topics and identify key challenges and opportunities, Ford conducted interviews with both internal and external stakeholders, who were additionlly asked to rate issues according to importance.

What actions were taken by Ford to promote a culture of compliance and ethics across its operations?

In its 2016/17 Sustainability Report Ford reports that it took the following actions for promoting a culture of compliance and ethics across its operations:

  • Providing ethics advice
  • Ford’s Corporate Compliance Office has developed various tools to provide employees with key compliance information. These tools include The Right Way, a free mobile application available in seven languages. The Right Way covers topics such as human rights, harassment and discrimination, human trafficking, bribery and corruption.
  • Offering ethics and compliance training
  • Mandatory online training courses are provided by Ford to non-manufacturing employees and other key personally globally. These courses focus on a number of issues, including the protection of personal and company information, bribery and corruption, conflicts of interest, and the company’s ethical culture.
  • Encouraging the reporting of violations
  • Known or possible violations of the law or of Ford’s Policy Letters and Directives can be anonymously reported, through telephone hotlines or email, to the General Auditors’ Office, Human Resources or the Office of the General Counsel.
  • Fighting bribery and corruption
  • To make sure that it operates according to the highest ethical standards, Ford:
    • implements clear bribery and corruption policies, as well as procedures for reporting breaches of law or policy
    • strengthened the anti-bribery and anti-corruption components of its Global Terms & Conditions (and of other contracts) for the company’s suppliers
    • provides training to individuals who may come across bribery or corruption issues at work
    • assesses all operations for bribery and corruption risks

Which GRI Standards have been addressed?

The GRI Standards addressed in this case are:

1) Disclosure 102-16 Values, principles, standards, and norms of behavior

2) Disclosure 102-17 Mechanisms for advice and concerns about ethics

3) Disclosure 205-2 Communication and training about anti-corruption policies and procedures


80% of the world’s 250 largest companies report in accordance with the GRI Standards

SustainCase was primarily created to demonstrate, through case studies, the importance of dealing with a company’s most important impacts in a structured way, with use of the GRI Standards. To show how today’s best-run companies are achieving economic, social and environmental success – and how you can too.

Research by well-recognised institutions is clearly proving that responsible companies can look to the future with optimism.

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1) This case study is based on published information by Ford, located at the link below. For the sake of readability, we did not use brackets or ellipses. However, we made sure that the extra or missing words did not change the report’s meaning. If you would like to quote these written sources from the original, please revert to the original at the link:





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