We are all disturbed by the events that have exposed deep wounds in our society around the questions of social and economic justice.
These issues sometimes seem too big and complex to solve. As leaders, we often ask ourselves if we really can make a difference and whether a corporation can be a catalyst for changes that will unite and make us stronger.
I have asked myself these questions over the years and more frequently in recent months. The answer I land on consistently is that corporations can, indeed, be a force for positive change and that corporate leaders have an obligation to inspire their organizations to do so.
At FCA US, our corporate values include a longstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion, the celebration of multicultural differences and the absolute rejection of racism and bigotry in all its forms.
FCA US and its people strive to maintain a diverse work culture where all people are respected and engaged in the work of exceeding the expectations of our customers, business partners and communities.
Despite our many achievements promoting diversity, our leadership team understands that diversity is a learning journey that requires continuous focus and engagement of our entire team.
For me, this goes beyond a corporate value. It is a deep personal commitment.
Companies need to promote a work culture that is engaged in raising the multicultural IQ of employees, where we actively promote understanding and respect, and support vibrant, courageous conversations about issues like race, justice and equality.
Efforts promoting diversity don’t exist outside of a company’s walls. They are central to a company’s reason and purpose to exist.
Empathy and the ability to walk in another person’s shoes are competencies companies must build in their people, as important as any business or technical skill more often seen as value drivers for a business.
Because today, people, and their ability to empathize with people different from themselves, are the true value drivers.
I recently presented our diverse suppliers with the idea that corporations must think beyond the four corners of a traditional business case and consider value to the community as a core part of their initiatives. Like empathy, I believe this competency will be a key differentiator of individual success and corporate leadership in the future.
To help raise our multicultural IQ, FCA US supports 10 business resource groups whose objectives include promoting awareness of multicultural differences, supporting career development of members and ensuring our products align with expectations of diverse customers and communities.
These groups represent a range of affinity communities that include African Ancestry, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, Women, Middle Eastern, Disability, Veteran, Working Parents and LGBTQ+.
We also are focusing on the role our leaders play in creating a work culture of respect and awareness and have bolstered our training programs to include the latest diversity training conversations.
For example, we’ve re-launched a diversity and inclusion video training series to bring awareness specifically to unconscious bias and cultural blind spots. We also are developing a mandatory diversity training for all of our employees beginning in 2021 and a separate mandatory training program specifically for leadership.
We’re establishing a Diversity & Inclusion objective for every employee which will be weighted during our annual performance evaluation process.
And, our top 200 leaders will convene an executive summit with a robust discussion on Diversity & Inclusion and courageous conversations, emphasizing the roles leaders can play in these issues.
The Company also strives to learn from and add value to diverse people and communities in various other ways. For instance, consider our historic commitment to minority suppliers that has brought forward such innovative programs as our annual MatchMaker program, which is attended each year by thousands of diverse entrepreneurs.
Because of programs like MatchMaker, FCA US has purchased more than $80 billion from minority-owned, women-owned and veteran-owned suppliers since 1983.
FCA US is applying the values of Matchmaker to optimize the economic impact of our new plant underway right now in Detroit. When complete, the facility will be the first new assembly plant built in the city in nearly 30 years and the first vehicles are expected to roll off the line by mid-2021.
Importantly, the new plant will represent a $1.6 billion investment and will bring 3,850 new jobs to the city. To date, we’ve extended job offers to 4,100 Detroiters.
The road to social and economic justice is a long and often challenging journey. But we all must do our part to make a difference. FCA US and its outstanding team are several decades into this learning journey, and we embrace it with open minds and open hearts.