Reverend Jesse Jackson Sr. pressed Ford Motor Company President and CEO Jim Hackett to provide better access to suppliers owned by women and minorities, The Detroit News reports. He made the comments toward the end of a 40-minute discussion about diversity in the automotive industry at the Rainbow Push Coalition Global Automotive Summit in Detroit last Friday, arguing that it was the only way that minorities’ presence in the industry would improve.
Hackett called it “a great idea,” saying that in his 100-day assessment of Ford’s operations, “I don’t think I met with enough suppliers [or] minority suppliers.”
He called Rev. Jesse Jackson’s statements a “get better or get worse” scenario, saying the automaker has a few ways to improve minority presence and representation both among dealers and within the company’s supplier network.
Ford Motor Company is already scored fairly well by the Rainbow Push Coalition, which keeps track of minority representation among automakers in a variety of segments within the company. Ford tops a list of twelve automakers in a survey ranking the companies on ethnic diversity practices, showing “best” practices in all areas except for dealer demographics.
Rev. Jesse Jackson pressed Jim Hackett for a solid plan, the Ford CEO responding by saying the company has one, without getting into specifics.
“I respect [Rev. Jackson] so much, I don’t want him to have to remind me,” Hackett said. “I feel like the chances here with software engineers coming out at a faster rate… is going to be better,” he remarked, referencing the chances that connected and autonomous vehicles can provide for minority representation in high-tech positions. “Now we have the potential here that this can be great.”