The automotive sector is a stronger place if we’re all pulling in the same direction, and that sometimes means looking at how we work and making changes
Ford has launched a video series, ‘Ford Presents Tough Talks’, exploring how the automotive industry, and places beyond, can foster a culture of inclusion and allyship for the LGBTQ+ community.
Hosted by Welsh sporting legend and first openly gay rugby union professional Gareth Thomas, the first video in the series discusses the specific LGBTQ+ issues faced in the automotive industry. He’s joined initially by Ed Rogers, a Ford employee in the UK who is chair of Ford Pride – Ford’s LGBTQ+ employee resource group – and founder and chair of Driving Pride, a cross automotive group dedicated to driving out discrimination in the industry.
Charlie Martin, a British racing driver and transgender rights activist then takes the passenger seat to talk about the challenges she faced transitioning within a male-dominated sport. Then it’s her turn in the driver’s seat, putting Ford-created Very Gay Raptor pickup truck – that features throughout – through its paces on a hill climb.
“One thing I’m always fed up with is people saying ‘well, that doesn’t happen in nowadays because society has progressed and things have changed’. But the fact that we’re openly having this conversation is the reality of today from lived experiences,” says Thomas.
Each episode of Tough Talks will feature conversations between Gareth Thomas and prominent members of the LGBTQ+ community and allies – straight people who actively support the equality and fair treatment of the LGBTQ+ community – from across Europe focussing on distinct themes, their impact and the challenge of various stereotypes that are found in, and beyond automotive culture.
Sparking debate is part of the projects aim, but the goal of levelling the playing field, and becoming a more inclusive industry is something Ford has been focused on for a number of years.
Since 1995 the employee resource group, Ford Pride ERG (formerly GLOBE), has championed LGBTQ+ rights across the globe as well as workplace inclusion in all aspects of corporate life. It was launched in Europe in 1996, making Ford one of the first companies in the corporate world to establish this type of employee resource group and to develop a Gender Identity Commitment.
“As a company, we actively champion all forms of diversity and are a committed and long-standing LGBTQ+ ally. The world is changing and there’s no place for discrimination of any kind, yet the message needs to be reinforced again and again. These videos are just another way to keep pushing the message but in a relatable and human way,” says Peter Godsell, vice president Human Resources, Ford Europe.
The company is currently providing a training programme specific to sexual orientation and gender identity issues, and is also developing programmes and policies that will assist with the integration and smooth transition of transgender employees.
Ford is one of many companies that are helping make positive changes, that will not only help the automotive sector succeed, but also foster changes in wider society.
Link to Video here – https://youtu.be/1_UmIurTCYc
It’s something the IMI is incredibly passionate about, and why it began its Diversity Task Force.