Inside General Motors’ “Most Inclusive Company In The World” Commitment
Credit: Andrea Stinson

A quick glance at General Motors’ guiding principles on their website, and the first thing they mention is their “aspiration to be the most inclusive company in the world.” A big feat for a company who was under fire last year for discriminatory and systemic racist business practices

But in just a short year, CEO Mary Barra is making good on her word. Earlier this year, GM revealed a new five-part plan — the result of a series of meetings between Barra and Black-owned media representatives — that pledges to offer better access to advertising dollars with GM. The changes address multiple aspects of the media ecosystem, including overall spend, spend distribution, measurement, deal structure and infrastructure development. To date, GM has also committed $4 million of their $10 million Justice and Inclusion Fund to support the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the MLK Memorial Foundation’s Inaugural Social Justice Fellows Program, the Asian Pacific American Institute Congressional Studies Fellowship Program, and other organizations doing critical racial justice work. 

Barra also tapped Telva McGruder to lead the organization’s diversity, equity and inclusion vision for the Office of DEI, and she celebrates one-year in her role this month. Juanita Slappy was also promoted to lead Multicultural Marketing for Cadillac brand.

And even despite these achievements in such a short time, still, Barra continues to be vocal about her focus on driving that supportive inclusivity not only within General Motors, but in the communities in which GM operates. 

For example, General Motors and its Cadillac continued their Black community commitment just this summer as the first-ever sponsorship activation as presenting sponsor of the Martha’s Vineyard African American Film Festival. The festival featured dynamic panel conversations about the path to inclusivity moderated by GM’s McGruder, a Director’s Brunch honoring Spike Lee and Regina King on how women in the industry are driving impact and influence in how we experience film today and the future.

“On our journey to become the most inclusive company in the world, GM is aligned by our guiding principles: Our Words (what we say), Our Deeds (what we do) and Our Culture (who we are),” says McGruder. “We launched our Inclusion Advisory Board (IAB) to help guide our work to increase diversity and create an inclusive internal culture where employees can show up as their authentic selves. Through our giving, we are activating on Our Deeds as we continue to establish alliances to advocate for and achieve equity in racial justice, education, health care and economic opportunities.”

Additional progress that has resulted include signing on to the Business Roundtable Multiple Pathways Initiative and the OneTen initiative; introducing our “Be Inclusive” behavior to celebrate diverse backgrounds, opinions, and ideals; and curating training content that includes videos, courses and articles for self-guided learning focused on three areas: recognizing and addressing unconscious bias, promoting an inclusive organization, and understanding and combating racial inequity.

“We are reimagining workforce strategy and evaluating our systems to ensure that all GM employees have equitable, impactful experiences with positive moments that matter,” GM proclaims. “Exploring new pathways to onboard a broader array of talent that will strongly contribute to our outcomes. For example, we joined OneTen, a coalition of 30+ companies and leaders that aim to upskill, hire, and advance 1 million Black individuals in America over the next 10 years into family-sustaining jobs with opportunities for advancement.”

While Black Americans have been disproportionately underserved in all sectors of business, General Motors is making it clear that they are on a mission to change that. And quite frankly, many companies need to follow suit. With these moments of progress, we can’t wait to see what the future holds.