Ford CEO Jim Hackett (F), who took over the automaker in May 2017, will personally visit the company’s Chicago Explorer plant on Friday to apologize for sexual harassment cases that span decades, FOX Business has learned.
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While Hackett was not CEO at the time of the sexual misconduct, which has been widely chronicled by the New York Times, he’s been left to deal with the legal and personal fallout. In August, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reached a $10 million settlement with the automaker to settle “sex and race” harassment at the two Chicago plants.
The Friday visit is a move that sends a zero-tolerance policy message with Hackett now at the helm. It also follows an open letter, reviewed by FOX Business, that Hackett sent to employees in which he described the cases of women detailed in the New York Times as “gut wrenching to read.”
Ford is among several companies that have been exposed in recent months for ongoing sexual harassment incidents in the workplace. Some of these cases involved high-profile firings, including Comcast's (CMCSA) Today Show anchor Matt Lauer, CBS anchor Charlie Rose (CBS) and movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, all removed because of sexual harassment incidents that were reported and reviewed by company management. Others tied to harassment cases such as Roy Price, who oversaw Amazon Studios (AMZN), resigned and Pixar co-founder John Lasseter, who has taken a leave of absence for “missteps.” The studio is owned by Disney (DIS).
Hackett, who took over after the ousting of former CEO Mark Fields last year, has also been tasked with reviving Ford, which has fallen behind some of its rivals. Under Fields, shares of Ford dropped to the $10 level and profits sagged.
Since Hackett’s appointment, shares have gained 18%. Earlier this week, the automaker reported December total car sales rose 0.9%, while F-Series pickup trucks posted their best year since 2005, rising 9.3%.