AP, Sept. 21
DETROIT — The Rev. Jesse Jackson said Tuesday his civil rights organization will begin paying closer attention to hiring and other business practices at foreign automakers operating in the United States — companies he said were farther behind in diversity efforts than Detroit’s Big Three.
In a conference call, Jackson said the increased focus on foreign carmakers will be among the topics discussed at the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition’s 5th annual automotive symposium scheduled for Thursday in Detroit.
Already, Jackson said, Rainbow/PUSH has beefed up its presence in the western United States to keep closer tabs on the foreign automakers that have their U.S. operations based there. He said Rainbow/PUSH will buy stock in those companies and “be a presence” at shareholder meetings.
“We’ll look at all those companies that do business in the American market as fair game to be accountable” in terms of increasing diversity in employment, advertising and supplier relations, and other areas, Jackson said.
As far back as 1998, Jackson criticized the auto industry as having a “notoriously” bad record for excluding minorities and poor whites from the corporate level. Automakers and suppliers expect minorities to be consumers and lower-level workers but fail to give them leadership positions, he said at the time.