FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: MELINDA SHELTON, 767; DIANE MINOR, x773
As Mitsubishi today pledges to implement what could be new benchmark standards for the global business community on fairness toward women and people of color, NOW leaders are keeping an appreciative, but wary eye on the process.
"This potentially widespread progress is only possible because of the courage of the women plaintiffs who came forward to allege sexual harassment," said NOW President Patricia Ireland. "We're going to be watchdogs -- not lapdogs -- of the company to make sure that reality lives up to rhetoric for those women."
NOW applauds former Labor Secretary Lynn Martin and Mitsubishi Motors leaders for developing exacting standards that will make workers understand they and the company will profit from a workplace free of race and sex discrimination. Those standards, contained in the Martin Report, include 34 recommendations in seven general areas, complete with rationales and timelines. The company agreed to all 34 recommendations.
"We intend to put the Martin Report's compliance deadlines on our calendars and check off every goal that is met and challenge the company about every one that is not met," Ireland said.
In a recent news conference NOW announced it was suspending its pickets against Mitsubishi because the company was simultaneously pledging to create a model workplace for women and minorities. However, it appeared that implementation of the company's pledge to rehire the women plaintiffs who no longer work for Mitsubishi would have disadvantaged the women in their sexual harassment lawsuit. So NOW worked successfully to rectify that situation.
"On the one hand, this is an encouraging model of us pressuring a corporate giant into compliance with their own stated goals," Ireland said. "On the other hand, it's disheartening to realize that we took them at their word and yet their offer still doesn't include any of the plaintiffs who were fired. If NOW wasn't looking over their shoulders, Mitsubishi lawyers could have damaged the very women the company was purporting to help. We have to maintain a trust-but-verify posture."
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