GM's leader says top brass more diverse than ever
Nathan Bomey, Detroit Free Press
Diversity is still important among top managers of the nation's top automaker
General Motors North America President Mark Reuss said the company is committed to leadership diversity as it changes a "traditionally bureaucratic, very white-male-oriented" culture.
GM is "about as diverse from a power standpoint as I've ever seen it," Reuss said at the Rev. Jesse Jackson's 14th annual Rainbow PUSH Coalition Global Automotive Summit in Detroit.
He said the automaker is committed to hiring diverse managers and more minority dealers.
About 22% of new car purchases are made by non-white consumers, according to Rainbow PUSH Coalition.
Jackson praised GM for its commitment to diversity, but said "people don't know you've got" so many minorities in leadership positions.
Among the top minority executives at GM are global design chief Ed Welburn, global quality chief Alicia Boler-Davis and purchasing chief Grace Lieblein. The highest-ranking woman at GM, global product development chief Mary Barra, is considered a top candidate to become the next CEO when Dan Akerson retires within a few years.
Akerson last week said he expects a "car gal" will soon become the first woman CEO of a Detroit-based automaker.
"Who doesn't want to work in a company like that?" said Reuss, a white man whose father worked his way up through GM. He is also considered a serious candidate to succeed Akerson. "Every woman in our company would love to work for a company that has the first woman CEO as part of the auto industry."
Reuss said GM is working toward a goal of adding 25 minority-owned dealerships in the U.S. by the end of the year after losing many during the period before and during its 2009 bankruptcy.
"This is a time where we can better reflect the buying public and the fabric of America inside our company," Reuss told reporters.