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Full-page ad blasts GM CEO Mary Barra as racist

Jamie L. LaReau, Detroit Free Press on

Published in Automotive News

In May 2020, Toyota Motor North America and GM each made the 2020 DiversityInc. Top 50 list — the only two car companies recognized. Toyota surged to No. 10 from No. 18. GM ranked No. 30.

Likewise, on June 19, a date known as Juneteenth celebrating the end of slavery in the United States, GM had all employees take 8 minutes, 46 seconds of silence to support the Black community. That was the length of time the officer knelt on Floyd's neck.

Last week, when speaking at the JP Morgan Global ESG conference Thursday, Barra said GM is making ongoing progress toward diversity. All of GM's 250 managers worldwide are charged with changing the workplace culture, she said.

"We continue to have conversations that make people a little uncomfortable because we believe once you’re aware of a situation and understand it better, it’ll lead to change," Barra said. "We’re very aware of changing the culture of the company. Our goal is to create an environment where people can be their true self at work. If you can’t be your true self, I would think that would be exhausting and how can you do your best work?"

Morrissey said GM is developing initiatives like the Chevrolet “Real Talk, Real Change,” a platform to promote discussions about race.

Also, it has projects such as, “More than That with Gia Peppers,” where the journalist has conversations about Black America.


"We’ve partnered with the National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters on a content series for Black American listeners produced and distributed by underrepresented businesses," Morrissey said. "In this same spirit, we will continue to have an open dialogue with Mr. Allen."

Systemic racism

But in the ad, the Black-owned media leaders said Barra's talk is just that — all talk.

"You stand on stage, after the death of George Floyd, saying, 'Black Lives Matter,' when you have refused to acknowledge us," the ad read. "The very definition of systemic racism is when you are ignored, excluded and you don’t have true economic inclusion."


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