Thursday, September 20, 2007

Chrysler promotes diversity

Carmaker unveils supplier incentives



Simon Boag, Chrysler executive vice president of procurement and supply, describes the company's diversity initiative on Thursday.


Chrysler LLC said Thursday that it plans to ask its suppliers to report on just how diverse their workforces are.

A workforce that that beats the state average for minority employment would put a supplier in a better position to win more business from the Auburn Hills-based automaker."For us, it's not just about the ownership of our minority suppliers, but it's the number of employees that our suppliers use that are minority employees," said Simon Boag, Chrysler's executive vice president of procurement and supply.

Boag made the announcement in Chrysler's tech center on the Auburn Hills campus during an event aimed at connecting the company and its largest suppliers with women- and minority-owned businesses.

The idea to measure minority employment came from Gov. Jennifer Granholm, Boag said.

"The essence here is employment," Boag said. "We want to be a catalyst in terms of increasing employment in our communities."

The automaker will ask suppliers that sell to Chrysler and to Chrysler's largest suppliers to report their percentage of minority employment each year.

That figure will be measured against a state average for minority employment, which in the case of Michigan is 20%, said Jethro Joseph, senior manager of Chrysler's diversity supplier development.

"It's an incentive to go over that number," Joseph said.

The annual reporting will be optional. Companies that don't exceed the state average will still get points for disclosing their numbers.

Kim Korth, president of automotive consulting firm IRN in Grand Rapids, expects suppliers to be skeptical.

"There's just so many of those initiatives that come down," she said. "A lot of times they're just not sustainable."

But Korth called the idea creative and new in the auto industry.

"This gives some additional incentive to expand your minority presence," she said. "It would almost be a reward for more progressive suppliers."

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