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Ford boss Raj Nair ousted for 'inappropriate behaviour'

North America chief Raj Nair's actions 'inconsistent with the company’s code of conduct'

Image Credit: Reuters
Raj Nair, Ford executive vice-president of global product development, speaks during the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan, US, January 9, 2017

New York: Ford ousted North American chief Raj Nair amid allegations of “inappropriate behaviour” by the executive, the US auto giant announced Wednesday.

Ford did not disclose details but said a review “determined certain behaviour by Nair was inconsistent with the company’s code of conduct”.

Nair joined Ford in 1987 and held numerous senior posts for the second largest US automaker prior to being tapped to lead the North American unit in June 2017. He also held the title of executive vice president.

“We made this decision after a thorough review and careful consideration,” said Ford chief executive Jim Hackett in a statement.

“Ford is deeply committed to providing and nurturing a safe and respectful culture and we expect our leaders to fully uphold these values.”

Nair expressed regret in the press release.

“I sincerely regret that there have been instances where I have not exhibited leadership behaviours consistent with the principles that the company and I have always espoused,” Nair said.

Nair was the latest US executive to be ousted amid a renewed focus on corporate behaviour and on the treatment of women including high-profile cases of sexual harassment an inappropriate conduct by leading personalities in media and business.

The new climate sparked the “me too” movement where women have come forward to reveal incidents of misbehaviour, forcing companies to rethink their policies and take reports seriously.

Hackett in December sent an open letter to Ford employees apologizing after a lengthy New York Times expose found pervasive harassment and mistreatment of women at two Ford factories dating back to the 1990s.

Michelle Krebs, an analyst at Autotrader, said the expulsion of Nair, a “rising star,” comes at a “particularly bad time” for Ford.

“Investors and analysts have been unhappy with the seeming lack of a clear direction for Ford, especially in terms of future mobility services. The stock price has fallen,” Krebs said. “The pressure is on Jim Hackett, anointed CEO last spring, to lay out a clear road ahead for Ford.”