GM's Barra to Head New Inclusion Advisory Board

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
gms barra to head new inclusion advisory board

General Motors CEO Mary Barra has appointed a new board to address racism and discrimination that may be lurking within the company. The automaker has taken a vocal stance against racism following widespread protests spurred by the killing of George Floyd and wants to be clear as day that it’s committed to diversity and inclusion. While not the most novel of concepts, as there isn’t a single company taking the counter argument, GM believes it can become the least racist of them all, with a little work.

“The board will guide our work to improve diversity and inclusion in our company, with the ultimate aspiration of making GM the most inclusive company in the world,” Barra wrote Monday in an internal document scooped by Automotive News.

GM recently set aside $10 million to support organizations that promote inclusion and racial justice, including a $1 million donation to the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. The board will help the company determine how best to spend the remaining funds.

According to the CEO, the advisory board will be tasked with supporting the words, deeds, and culture rooted in inclusion and racial justice while weeding out language and ideas that do not. The group will be comprised of eight members from GM and four individuals from outside the company. The latter group includes social justice advocate and CEO of the Skillman Foundation, Tonya Allen; CEO of Ignition Media Group and son of former Detroit Mayor Dennis Archer, Dennis Archer Jr.; chief people officer at GM subsidiary Cruise, Arden Hoffman; and CEO of Ingersoll Automotive, GM Minority Dealer Advisory Council member and chairman of the Buick-GMC dealer council, Todd Ingersoll.

Barra will head the board herself, backed by President Mark Reuss; CFO Dhivya Suryadevara; Kim Brycz (VP of HR); Craig Buchholz (VP of communications); Gerald Johnson (VP of manufacturing); Matt Tsien (chief technology officer); and Telva McGruder (Workplace Engineering and Operations Solutions/ex-President of GM’s African Ancestry Network).

The board was first mentioned when General Motors released a statement committing itself to anti-racism on Juneteenth. Other promises include the aforementioned donations and a vow to battle racism and all of its manifestations:

At General Motors, we recognize that the world — and our company — must evolve toward a more equitable future. Our company stands for more than just the products we build and sell. We stand for the dignity of people, justice, tolerance and inclusion. So, we will use our size, scale, and the collective voice of the entire GM team to stand up for these values.

“We have a lot of work to do as a board and as a company, but this is an encouraging start,” Barra said in her letter to staff. “Please continue the dialogue with one another and in your own social circles, because dialogue leads to understanding, and understanding leads to change. Together, we will do this.”

[Image: General Motors]

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  • Jerome10 Jerome10 on Jun 23, 2020

    I know this is all the rage but it has been going on awhile. This diversity stuff isn’t without costs either. Know a guy who worked summer job for a law firm in Detroit. This was probably late 90s early 2000s. He was ultra low level basically driving documents around the Detroit area for this firm. While I probably could say the automaker name I won’t, but they were getting big on diversity and promoting Minorities to higher positions in the company. The law firm he worked for had been dealing with the auto industry for a couple decades. What He told me ended up happening is that people incapable of handling the higher level jobs were promoted to Too High of a level within the automaker for diversity reasons. When they then couldn’t handle the job they were let go or demoted.... which of course led to a big increase in discrimination lawsuits against the automaker. So while you can be 100% against discrimination, the downside is that these sort of work initiatives can very easily hurt both the employees that they’re trying to help as well as the company doing the diversity initiatives. Not to mention the product could very well suffer if you don’t put your best people in the correct positions, leading to recalls, quality issues, safety concerns etc. It may look good on Facebook but this stuff has very real consequences to careers, companies, finances, employees, consumers, and global competitiveness. Put the best people in the best position and forget about all this identity politics stuff and everyone will be better off, no matter what color/sex/ethnicity or any of the million other buckets people like to divide and put Americans into (or Canadians or anyone else). The right thing, and the American thing, is judging people by their talents and hard work and ability and not some silly trait they’re born with. This sorta stuff is toxic and tearing us apart and automakers are not immune to it.

  • Dan Dan on Jun 24, 2020

    Yep, it's been going on for quite some time now. One of Nasser's pet causes at Ford back then was getting white guys out of management. Can you imagine Dongfeng declaring it a crisis that their company employed too many Chinese?

  • MaintenanceCosts Shame about the DCT. If this had a manual it would be a great daily driver.
  • EngineerfromBaja_1990 These cars hit rock bottom in value by the mid 2010s when the DCT related lawsuits came in droves. Too bad because other than that poor transmission and limited legroom, these are very good handling and well equipped vehicles with decent build quality and materials.We can all be very positive it was the DCT fiasco what ruined this nameplate for North America rather than the shift from sedans and HB to CUVs.The only upside is manual transmission vehicles were also affected by the low resale value, which make them an excellent buy.
  • MaintenanceCosts And this is why I just bought myself a good 2011 manual car that I plan to keep for a good long time.
  • Lou_BC The Camaro always had to contend with the Corvette. Up until the mid-engine Corvette, bother were just muscle cars occupying the same niche. The demise of the Challenger and Camaro will be great news for Ford and the Mustang. Once again they are the last domestic Muscle car standing.
  • MaintenanceCosts I love these. They are really too loud for the street--you'd have to tiptoe around subdivisions and parking lots if you don't want people to get mad--but the noise is SO beautiful.But if I got this one the first thing I'd do would take a heat gun to the white stripes. The car is plenty shouty enough without them.