Ford responds from top down

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Corporate commitment to workforce diversity has to start from the top," Sandra Nicholls, corporate advertising supervisor at Ford Motor Co., says about the way employees absorb and respond to diversity initiatives in any company.

Ford CEO "Jacques Nasser says unless we are a diverse company, we will not succeed in the global marketplace," says Ms. Nicholls. "He is truly committed to diversity. And knowing that you have that commitment from the top is very helpful."

The philosophy is reflected in two advertising campaigns. The first, "Profiles of Empowerment," broke as a corporate effort and is ongoing. The goals of the campaign are to recruit minorities to the auto industry and to Ford as well as influence business leaders and entrepreneurs.

Ads feature individual minority dealers and suppliers that have achieved success and work with Ford.

"For years I have had people in our minority supplier office tell me, `Sandra, we have so many stories to tell. $3.3 billion was spent with minority suppliers in 1999. We need a campaign to tell these stories,' " says Ms. Nicholls.

That was followed by a corporate campaign featuring Ford employees. Zubi Advertising, Coral Gables, Fla., handles the Spanish-language advertising and UniWorld Group, New York, handles African-American advertising.

The first ad in the employees campaign features the Th!nk brand division and Rainey Crawford, regional government affairs director, who works on alternative fuel vehicles and the electric vehicle.

New ads are expected for both campaigns, says Ms. Nicholls.

The campaigns are supported by a variety of events that center on work issues, says Ms. Nicholls.

For example, "Empowerment through Entrepreneurship" is a workshop featured at 25 events around the U.S. including the African Methodist Episcopal Church general conference. Similar programs may be planned for the Hispanic community.

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