General Motors Chairman and CEO Mary Barra joined the Rev. Dr. Wendell Anthony, president of the Detroit chapter of the NAACP, Mike Duggan, mayor of Detroit, and the CEOs of eight Detroit companies at the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center to speak against racism and injustice and commit to action and change. Here is the text of her remarks as delivered.
Last week, I wrote a letter to the General Motors team. In it, I shared my thoughts about what’s happening in the world today. I received hundreds of responses from employees – many with words of support; some with words of skepticism about whether things will really change; and others still with personal stories of how racism has impacted their lives. As a mom of two, these stories broke my heart.
At GM, we aspire to be the most inclusive company in the world. And our hope is that every company will do the same. And while there may not be a precise roadmap for how that will happen, that is no excuse not to try. Inclusion will be a north star for us. And every day, we will take steps in service of our aspiration. That is why I am proud to be here today.
Today, I am committing to you – as I did to the GM team – that we will no longer allow our Company the indulgence of asking, “why?” Today, I am committing that we as a company will focus on “what.” What will we do?
Like all of the leaders here today, we want to be part of meaningful, deliberate change. We will not allow ourselves the passivity of urging others to act. We will act.
1) We commit to inclusion – that means creating the conditions where every single human who believes in inclusion is welcome within our walls. Where those conditions do not currently exist, we will bring forth the resources and the rigor to ensure that they do. We know we’re not perfect. Pretending to be is part of the problem. To any GM employees who have the courage to speak up – we will hear you.
2) We unequivocally condemn intolerance – that means racism, bigotry, discrimination and any other form of named or unnamed hatred. Where hatred exists within our house, we will root it out. To any GM employees who feel like they cannot bring their full selves to work – we will see you.
3) We stand up against injustice – that means taking the risk of expressing an unpopular or polarizing point of view, because complacency and complicity sit in the shadow of silence. To any GM employees who feel like we should leverage GM’s voice – we will speak out.
Today is an important moment for all of our organizations – starting with listening to each other. Because awareness leads to dialogue…dialogue leads to understanding…and understanding leads to change.