Mary Barra, General Motors, GM discussed on Next Question with Katie Couric
She such a trailblazer, such an inspiration in the business world I know you haven't met her, but you know all about her, so take it away bows. Tell us about our guests Mary Barra. Oud Katie I. AM excited I ted and Mary Barra. She is all of my corporate goals. She is the CEO of General Motors one of the Big Three Detroit automakers. GM is one of the largest and historically important companies, so the American economy and I mean talk about male dominated. You can't get more of a swaggering boys club than the car industry that's for sure. And when Mary was appointed bows in two thousand, fourteen, only twenty of the fortune, five hundred cheap exacts were women, and now we're up to thirty seven, which we should note is still impossibly infuriatingly small, but is more. More women take over those executive positions. We really have to thank leaders like Mary Barra absolutely she's incredible, and it was such a pleasure to meet her over zoom and have this meaty wonderful conversation you know. She shared her path to leadership, and how she was able to make such a massive company like GM act nimbly in a time of crisis, but of course we had to start in the here and now we have to talk about this letter. She wrote toward nearly two hundred thousand employees in response to our current racial unrest. To tell you Katie I was I. Mean I'm really really impressed, you know the company letter expressed some fiery sentiments that I really haven't heard seen presented by mini CEO at all and a lot of people. Hopefully, bose will follow suit and I've got a quote from that letter. She says she is impatient and disgusted. By the fact, that is a nation. We seem to be placated by the passive discussion of why we wanted to know where her head was that when she wrote that letter on how she plans on turning those words into action, so we started there. Let's get into. I think. There was this sense of sadness and frustration that I had is I. Learn what was happening and processed it and at a human level. It was just unconscionable of what happened. And I'm an engineer. By degree, and so I I'm a problem solver. You know I think we just became very clear to me. There's been to many others that we can't just talk about why and then you know something else replaces the news cycle in nothing gets done became really important to me that we do something and we find solutions, and we drive for lasting change and I'm really. A week and just passionate about. Really making changes and stop talking, let's start doing. That is that's a that's so true and in refreshing to hear I know that your letter also announced the formation of an advisory board as you said which. Has the intention of making gm a more inclusive company in the world What do you think that the company and perhaps like? Yourself and the others who are leading the company How do you actually get there? How do you make it a more inclusive company? Because that's really the operative word here you know diversity is one thing. Certainly you know we can have people of all types of backgrounds and cultures, ethnicities, etc, but inclusion is what actually makes it. Workable, it's what actually creates success. So what? What is it that you intend to do by this advisory board? Why can't we been talking about for a while? Now that we WANNA have a culture in an environment where everybody can bring their true selves to work, because if you can be your true south, you can be at your best, and so that's been our goal. we recognize we have more work to do and so with the. Inclusion advisory. Board one of the very first things we know we need to do is listen because we don't have all the answers, and so Ashley I'm excited because this evening we have one of our first listening sessions with several members of the senior leader team, and we believe we need to listen. We need to talk. We need to learn together. you know as I said in an no? You know listening and talking will lead to the dialog that will lead to change and so. That's one of the areas we need to work on I'm also personally. Very pleased that I get to be a part of the Bart. Group that is going to work on four areas the area of from a finance perspective, healthcare perspective, education workforce, which is the committee I chair and Ben Criminal Justice because I. do think we need to stomach change, and when you a company like General Motors you know we feel a responsibility to drive change within our environment and what we can do, with our. Our suppliers, so we have a pretty wide footprint by then in addition to working with the business. Roundtable and all of those companies I think together we can. Really we can really start to dismantle. And Change Systems for the better. So again we have much work to do to build on things that we've already done, but we have much more work to do, and we're going to be working both as a company, and then is a collection of companies. It seems to me that we've reached this new era where it's not really okay to stay silent on some of these issues we've seen. Seen People like you Mary speaking out Jeff. bezos basically told the customer from Amazon that if he didn't like it, you know he could lump it and he didn't mind losing him as a customer, which is a real shift for Jeff Bezos, and we see you know people like Ken Frazier. The CEO of Merck saying George Floyd could have been him and. I think that that we're hearing from these corporate leaders in a much more palpable way right now. Why is that so essential? And and what do you make of this real shift in in speaking out? Again when I when I look at General Motors, we've always said we want to be known as a values. Based Company, and so as we have spoken out in the past, it's always been to make sure our employees understood what we believed in what we stood for. As it relates to our values, and I think it is to a tipping point now where it would be inconsistent with our values, not to speak out, and not to work with others and challenge ourselves and challenge others when I when I said in the note we want. Want to be the most inclusive company in the world. I don't want to I. Mean I I want every company to be the most inclusive in the world. Because it's not something we should compete on. It's something we all have to dedicate ourselves to do so I to me. It's values based, and you can't stay silent when something is just fundamentally happening. That is so inconsistent with your values you. You have a responsibility to act, that's. That is quite a radical. Statement? It really is to say that it's not just about General Motors being the most inclusive company in the world that you want every company I I.