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Profile: Mary Barra

GM CEO Mary Barra names “inclusion” team in a bid to act on social equality commitment.

In response to the social justice marches and calls to action inspired by the death of George Floyd at the hands of police, General Motors CEO Mary Barra is stepping up her commitment.

Now is the time, Barra says, she announced to her employees in an internal memo that the company has created a 12-member "inclusion advisory board" to guide the global automaker in its effort to improve diversity and inclusion in its ranks.

Barra, the first woman to lead a car company with a female chief financial officer by her side, has been recognized nationally for her commitment to diversifying the workplace and her board of directors.

The task force includes two of Detroit's most accomplished young Black leaders: Tonya Allen, CEO of the Skillman Foundation, and entrepreneur Dennis Archer Jr. 

Allen has established herself as someone who not only provides a voice for Detroit children but also helped to provide philanthropic dollars when so many organizations abandoned the city and gave up.

At the top of the internal announcement letter, Barra wrote: "Our Work Continues."

"Last month, as part of my post in response to the death of George Floyd, I assured you that General Motors would take several immediate actions. One step was to create an Inclusion Advisory Board of internal and external leaders that I will chair."

In addition to Barra, the 11-member board will guide GM’s work to improve "diversity and inclusion ... with the ultimate aspiration of making GM the most inclusive company in the world," she wrote.

With plans to meet in July, she listed the group in this order:

  • Tonya Allen, philanthropist and social justice advocate

  • Dennis Archer Jr., CEO of Ignition Media and president, Archer Corporate Services

  • Kim Brycz, senior vice president, GM global human resources

  • Craig Buchholz, senior vice president, GM global communications

  • Arden Hoffman, chief people officer, Cruise

  • Todd Ingersoll, president, Ingersoll Automotive of Danbury, and GM Minority Dealer Advisory Council member

  • Gerald Johnson, executive vice president, GM global manufacturing

  • Telva McGruder, GM Employee Resource Group at-large member

  • Mark Reuss, GM president

  • Dhivya Suryadevara, GM chief financial officer

  • Matt Tsien, GM chief technology officer

Barra said, "We have a lot of work to do as a board and as a company, but this is an encouraging start. I continue to be inspired by your notes, your personal stories, and your commitment to doing your part to make our company and our world a better and more equitable place for everyone." She encouraged her company to "continue the dialogue" with each other and in social circles "because dialogue leads to understanding, and understanding leads to change. Together, we will do this." On June 2, she wrote a passionate letter after the Minneapolis police brutality case. On June 3, she joined Detroit leaders in making a public commitment to work to change the corporate culture. On June 5, she announced a $10-million investment in organizations that promote racial justice.

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