24 April 2006 | Anusha Bradley
Ford spent $825 million (£463 million) on goods and services from female-owned businesses in the first year of a programme to encourage the development of minority suppliers.
This figure was part of a total spend of $5.5 billion (£3.1 billion) worth of goods and services from minority suppliers during 2005.
Direct spending with minority first-tier suppliers was $3.7 billion and $1.8 billion was spent on purchases with second-tier minority and female-owned businesses.
Tony Brown, Ford's senior vice-president of global purchasing, said in a statement: "The success of the women's business enterprise programme is another indicator of the way Ford seeks to include businesses that reflect the demographics of our customer base."
Ford developed a patented web-based system to manage its minority suppliers. It verified their status and this allowed Ford to measure the impact of its spending on the wider supply chain.
Ford estimates its $5.5 billion spent with minority suppliers has helped to generate over $13 billion of business with suppliers downstream.