Last week, Detroit giant Ford Motor Company released its 2010 Sustainability Report. The report explains how Ford’s long-term sustainability strategy centers on climate change, water stewardship, and leveraging its supply chain to make a positive impact on people and the planet.

Ford approaches sustainability as a business model that builds shared value aligned with the planet’s preservation and engaged employees. To that end, the company’s key performance indicators (KPIs) are concentrated in three main areas:

  • Economy and Quality: Ford aims for customer satisfaction with all of its stakeholders from customers to dealers. Customer satisfaction increased to 82 percent in 2010 while the amount of complaints per 1000 vehicles declined. Dealers and retailers in the US and Europe also reported increased satisfaction with Ford. It is interesting to note that Ford ties customer satisfaction with its net income, $6.6 billion in 2010--a reversal from a $14.7 billion loss in 2008.
  • Environment: Worldwide facility energy consumption decreased from 3561 kilowatt hours per vehicle in 2008 to 3,087 in 2010. Meanwhile its worldwide facility CO2 emissions per vehicle decreased over the same time period. But what’s the most impressive metric? Ford’s manufacturing facilities have saved approximately 10.5 billion gallons of water since 2000, a 62 percent reduction in water consumption.
  • Society: Do happier employees make better cars? Ford makes the case. Since 2008 the company’s automobiles have experienced fewer recalls and a decrease in lost-time cases. A survey of its dealers revealed a more positive attitude towards the company from 2008 to 2010. Plus, its employees logged an increase in volunteer hours during 2010. Employee engagement pays dividends for Ford.
Ford is also working to embed sustainability thinking throughout its supply chain. The company has trained 1655 suppliers and has surveyed another 751 on environmental and workplace compliance issues.

“Creating a strong business and building a better world are not conflicting goals,” said Ford’s Executive Chairman William Clay Ford, Jr. back in 2009, “They are both essential ingredients for long-term success.”  Two years after that statement, Ford appears to be on the right path as business with a sustainability-driven agenda can work, indeed, for automobile manufacturers.  Ford’s work on sustainability and climate volatility shows that companies can benefit not only financially from sustainability efforts, but can leverage them as effective marketing messages, too.

About The Author

Chanel Alexander

With her experience working in management consulting, online media & advertising, and public relations, Chanel Alexander brings a business and marketing perspective to Chanel has a B.S. in Business Administration with emphasis in Marketing from San Francisco State University and is near completion of her M.S. in Integrated Marketing Communications with a concentration in Public Relations from San Francisco's Golden Gate University, Edward S. Ageno School of Business. She has worked with at-risk youth and non profit community organizations through the Bay Area in addition to her many accomplishments. Chanel will occasionally contribute thought pieces on issues related to business, marketing, technology, and energy.