At Lear Corporation, people are its greatest resource. The company would not be where it is today without its manpower; it has grown to employ more than 161,000 employees across 39 different countries. As a global supplier of automotive seating and electrical systems, Lear products have made their way into 400 vehicle nameplates. However, Lear sets itself apart from most companies by valuing and giving back to the communities where its facilities are located. VP of Electronics Jason Scott said, “It’s about working safely and respecting the space we are given.”
“Take a Stand” Against Distracted Driving Campaign
This community-centered mentality spearheaded Lear’s Take a Stand against distracted driving campaign, which kicked off in October of 2017 when CEO and President Ray Scott took the initiative to address the epidemic of distracted driving. Out of respect for Lear’s workers and consumers who drive day in and out, Scott believed it was time to take a stand. After Lear launched an awareness campaign, the company invited EndDD.org’s founder, Joel Feldman to give multiple presentations at the company headquarters in 2017. Mr. Feldman also offered his expertise and consulted Lear on how to launch its own campaign. He trained a team of Lear employees to give similar talks in hopes of spreading the message to as many individuals and communities as possible, setting a precedent that values people first.
Jason Scott emphasized the importance of educating and giving back to the community, calling it “personal” to the company. “When we give back to the community, our employees are more likely to give back as well. This is something we want to keep going,” he said.
Lear employees are given countless community outreach opportunities, many of which focus on preventing distracted driving. For instance, the company featured a distracted driving awareness float at the America’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in Detroit and spoke to reporters at the IndyCar Series race, The Detroit Grand Prix, about distracted driving prevention. Jason Scott spoke of these opportunities as “a way to get our name out there in a positive way. Our name does not have much visibility to the everyday person. This isn’t about a consumer product. We want our name to be connected to raising awareness.”
Tackling the Distracted Driving Epidemic Through Education
The company has not only brought distracted driving awareness to its employees and suppliers, but to thousands of students at local high schools and colleges across the country as well. Through presentations and promotional events, Lear is tackling the epidemic through education, seeking to change dangerous driving behaviors and in turn decrease the number of deaths due to driver distractions. There is even a pledge you can make on the Lear website that reads, “I will keep my eyes on the road, keep my hands on the wheel, keep my mind on driving.” Lear Account Manager and lead for the campaigns education outreach efforts, Elizabeth Christie, calls the pledges “a process — not everyone can go cold turkey. But what we can do is get them to choose something they can do to lessen distractions.”
This online pledge has been taken by more than 14,000 people, demonstrating the significant impact Lear has made on decreasing distracted driving through its awareness campaign.
Jason Scott added, “getting our message out there hasn’t exactly been easy. Not because people don’t believe in the message, but because they think it might be depressing. Others may see it as another safety talk, another box needed to be checked. However, when we give our presentation, they become engaged. It’s like night and day. It becomes personal, and that’s when it really sticks. I’ve had people walk up to me and thank me. They tell me driving to work has completely changed for them. This is exactly what our goal is.”
Expanding the Distracted Driving Campaign
Lear is now expanding their campaign, reaching out to its international locations and communities and partnering with different organizations. Presentations are being given in Canada, Mexico, and are beginning in Europe with the goal of kicking off more campaigns across the globe. Lear has recently partnered with B.R.A.K.E.S., a defensive driving school for teenagers, and has closely worked with EndDD.org since its campaign launch. Feldman returns each fall and spring to Michigan to partner with Lear and educate local high school students. Furthermore, Lear and EndDD.org sponsored a 2019 SADD video and meme contest to enable students to express their creativity and get the distracted driving message out. Eight winners were selected out of some 975 entries.
Lear has made incredible strides to give back and show respect to the community it serves. The Take A Stand campaign has reached far and wide, influencing a change in dangerous driving behaviors and saving countless lives.
The company’s largest talk will be this September at the GM IT Conference as the Safety Keynote Presenters. However, this campaign would not be successful without the leadership of Ray Scott. “With the message coming from the top down, people were more willing to listen, giving the campaign traction. Because of this, we have grown quite a bit and have exceeded our original expectations,” said Elizabeth Christie.
*Melanie Riehl is a sophomore Communications and Media Studies student at Fordham University at Lincoln Center. She serves as a Copy Editor on the executive board of Fordham’s student newspaper, The Observer.