Diversity, sustainable environmental practices, safe working conditions, support for the communities in which they operate, and fair are policies and practices have become embedded in the global automobile industry nowadays.
For the second time in a row, Ford Motor Co. ranked as the top automotive brand in the World Benchmarking Alliances’ 2022 Corporate Human Rights Benchmark.
With ESG, or environmental, societal and governance, becoming more important considerations for investors both large and small, rankings such as those prepared by the World Benchmarking Alliance, which is funded by an array of foundations from around the world, have taken on additional significance.
Ford leads in Human Rights concerns
Ford also ranks among the top 10 of 127 companies who were assessed as part of the benchmark, according to a statement from the WBA.
The automaker’s top position on top of a list of 29 automotive companies was determined through an updated methodology, which included analyzing current policies, processes and practices in place that systematize human rights, coupled with effective response examples and protocols to address potential allegations.
“Leading the electric vehicle revolution is exciting, but with it comes even more responsibility to ensure steadfast social and environmental sustainability measures across our operations and global supply chains,” said Cynthia Williams, Ford global director, Sustainability, Homologation & Compliance.
“When it comes to human rights, our jobs are never done, but we’re proud to be leading the charge and working closely with respected organizations that keep us all accountable,” she added.
The Corporate Human Rights Benchmark provides a comparative snapshot year-on-year of the largest companies on the planet, looking at the policies, processes, and practices they have in place to systematize their human rights approach and how they respond to serious allegations. This is a public good for all stakeholders.
“Business can create jobs and secure livelihoods, provide products and services, support community development and provide tax revenue for the state to invest in the well-being of its people,” the Alliance noted
“Yet, without a sound commitment to human rights and implementation through due diligence, jobs can be precarious with poverty wages, indigenous peoples can be dispossessed of their ancestral lands and individuals can be subjected to modern day slavery, amongst a range of other potential impacts,” it noted.
ESG rankings are controversial
In the U.S., however, ESG standards, with the emphasis on environmental and social performance, have become contentious as many Republicans, such as Florida Governor Ron Desantis, insist companies should not be pressured to take positions, even obliquely, on critical issues.
The Biden administration is supporting the push for different corporate standards.
The Hill, a publication devoted to covering events in the Washington D.C. reported this week the U.S. Department of Labor is scrapping rules on ESG proposed by under former President Donald Trump.
The Labor Department said the new rule was issued to end a “chilling effect” created by Trump-era restrictions on considering environmental and social factors in investing.
“The rule announced today will make workers’ retirement savings and pensions more resilient by removing needless barriers, and ending the chilling effect created by the prior administration on considering environmental, social and governance factors in investments,” said Assistant Secretary for Employee Benefits Security Lisa Gomez.
“Climate change and other environmental, social and governance factors can be useful for plan investors as they make decisions about how to best grow and protect the retirement savings of America’s workers,” Gomez said.
The Trump administration in 2020 proposed a regulation that was expected to discourage the consideration of environmental and social factors in this type of investing.