Ford’s commitment to fostering a more diverse and inclusive environment continues with the launch of Indigenous Peoples Employee Resource Group (ERG) — bringing the total number of Ford ERGs to 12. Membership is open to any employee around the globe interested in learning about and supporting indigenous cultures and protecting natural resources.
Jeff Jones, a 26-year employee now working on semiconductor crisis management on the Model e TM tech team, along with Global Chief Marketing Officer, Suzy Deering, spearheaded the creation of the employee resource group. “Even though Native Americans make up less than 2% of the population in the U.S., globally there are nearly half-billion Indigenous peoples across 90 countries. I knew that we could make something powerful together,” said Jones, who belongs to the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians.
Jones is looking forward to empowering the indigenous population and bringing awareness to the traditions and cultures it has to offer. “The group will be more than just what each one of us provides,” he said, “we will have to respect and understand the differences between all the indigenous cultures and identities globally and remind ourselves of our collective tie to the land, the environment and sustainability. As we grow, our mission will be tied to natural resources and how they reinforce our spiritual well-being.”
Julie Christensen, a human resources business partner in Ford New Zealand, who is Māori, of the Ngāti Raukawa iwi and Ngāti Kurī iwi, is also a member of the new ERG. She joined the group to share the Māori culture of Aotearoa (New Zealand). Christensen says when team members integrate aspects of Māori culture into their daily work habits, it becomes normalized in the workplace.
“At Ford NZ, we proudly represent a diverse range of cultures, so I wanted to help connect our team to our Māori culture and support them in feeling comfortable in doing so,” Christensen said.
Maci Hamdorf, inclusion and diversity lead at Ford Australia and New Zealand, is joining as an ally because she feels Australians have a responsibility to respect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture. “Raising awareness is a key starting point, and I hope we can start conversations within our communities and with the organizations we work with to do the same.”
Holly Teed, loss prevention account manager and member of the Papaschase community (Enoch) in Edmonton in Alberta, is a direct descendent of Chief Papaschase, head of the indigenous band. She became aware of her family roots through genealogy research, which led her to become involved in the effort to establish Canada’s inaugural Truth and Reconciliation Day in 2021. She is also a member of Ford Credit Canada’s diversity committee.
Teed said the time is right for Ford to create greater understanding of Indigenous People. “We’re a multicultural company, so we need to understand how to communicate with people of different cultures,” she said. “In my job, I have learned that by taking a step back, asking the right questions and trying to understand more, I usually can solve whatever the problem is and help the customer as well.”
August 9 is International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. For forty years, this day has been used to raise awareness of the needs of these population groups and the importance of protecting their rights, their distinct cultures, and ways of life. This day was chosen in recognition of the first meeting of the UN Working Group on Indigenous Populations held in Geneva in 1982.