Forbes

We have many pock­ets of good things, but we want to bring it all to­gether and then take it to the next level.”

- mAry bArrA Change Agent

CryS­tAl AShby: hello, mary. how did eq­uity be­come a prac­tice you per­son­ally sup­port?

mAry bArrA: i feel it’s the way i was raised. my par­ents were older, so they grew up dur­ing the de­pres­sion. that was their foun­da­tion. And i truly be­lieve i have the op­por­tu­nity to be the Ceo to­day be­cause of the work that gen­eral mo­tors has done with di­ver­sity over decades. We’re still work­ing at level­ing the play­ing field. I’m proud of what we’ve done, and i know we have more to do. the ge­orge Floyd mur­der re­ally af­fected me. i felt an in­cred­i­ble call to ac­tion. i was also mad at my­self. Why hadn’t we taken a stand be­fore? i can’t go back to change that, but i can cer­tainly make sure we go for­ward. We can’t let this news cy­cle fade. it’s hap­pened too many times. We have to change. now has to be the time.

We have to change. Now has to be the time.”

CA: When you thought about your team and how you were go­ing to gal­va­nize them into ac­tion, how did you share your au­then­tic­ity?

mb: i be­lieve you have to start with your­self, and be­cause i’m re­spon­si­ble for gen­eral mo­tors, i have to start there, too. i wrote a note to the whole com­pany, and i think what re­ally brought my lead­er­ship team of 15 peo­ple to­gether were the re­sponses we got when i posted the note. i still get goose bumps when i think about some of the per­sonal sto­ries peo­ple told of their ex­pe­ri­ences at gm that weren’t what i want them to be. the sto­ries led to lis­ten­ing ses­sions. We had town halls on in­clu­sion. We’ve also had two lis­ten­ing ses­sions with the lead­er­ship of gmAAn, our African-Amer­i­can erg [em­ployee re­source group]. the lead­ers asked ev­ery­body to share how they’re feel­ing. the words were hard to hear, but we kept peel­ing back to a deeper level, to un­der­stand why they felt that way. then the se­nior team and i started ex­am­in­ing all our poli­cies and pro­ce­dures, from hir­ing, pro­mo­tions, de­vel­op­ment, mar­ket­ing, and com­mu­ni­ca­tion to dealer and sup­plier di­ver­sity. We have many pock­ets of good things, but we want to bring it all to­gether and then take it to the next level. every fall we get our top 230 com­pany lead­ers from around the globe to­gether for a ses­sion on busi­ness and cul­ture. We were vir­tual this year, so we broke it up into dif­fer­ent top­ics. The first one was on di­ver­sity, eq­uity and in­clu­sion [dei]. i started off by say­ing i’m still learn­ing, so if i say some­thing wrong be­cause i don’t un­der­stand, i hope you’ll help me un­der­stand. Please don’t can­cel me!

CA: how do you en­gage your many stake­hold­ers – the in­vestors, your em­ploy­ees, your cus­tomers, com­mu­nity or­ga­ni­za­tions – on this jour­ney?

mb: our iAB [in­clu­sion Ad­vi­sory Board] in­cludes one dealer and one sup­plier, and they’ll take mes­sag­ing back to their col­leagues. And we have strong sup­port from our in­vestors, es­pe­cially from those who have been with us a long time. We share what we stand for, be­cause we be­lieve that leads to bet­ter busi­ness per­for­mance. i also ask in­vestors, how can you not sup­port creat­ing an en­vi­ron­ment where all peo­ple bring their true – and best – selves to work? And frankly, the push­back an­swers i get are not very good. i’m not say­ing i’ve won ev­ery­one over. But that’s what we’re try­ing to achieve.

CA: how do you plan to make change sus­tain­able, to be­come a part of the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s foun­da­tion, not to men­tion a part of your legacy?

mb: that’s some­thing we’re re­ally fo­cused on. We’re look­ing holis­ti­cally at all the com­pany sys­tems, since peo­ple re­spond bet­ter to what gets mea­sured. We’re set­ting goals and hold­ing our­selves ac­count­able. our num­ber one goal has long been to have health, work­place safety and prod­uct safety, and we just added psy­cho­log­i­cal safety last month at our global safety Week. that opens up a link to our dei work.

CA: that’s a great strat­egy, and I look for­ward to re­ports. thanks so much for your time, mary.

mb: thank you, Crys­tal.

univer­sity, and sub­stan­tial funds have also been raised from cor­po­rate part­ners and alumni. each univer­sity has hired a full­time pro­gram di­rec­tor, and the pro­gram ser­vices, put to­gether in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the uni­ver­si­ties, are rich: men­tor­ing, tu­tor­ing, eLC mem­bers as guest lec­tur­ers, sum­mer in­tern­ships, one-on-one coach­ing, men­tal health as­sess­ments, and an all-im­por­tant process for as­sess­ing and mea­sur­ing re­sults. “We’re con­fi­dent that these ap­proaches will work,” said deese, “but we’re pre­pared to it­er­ate as we learn, to in­clude those learn­ings. “We be­lieve this pro­gram can be trans­for­ma­tive for the young men and their fam­i­lies,” ex­plains deese. “if through our Black male grad­u­a­tion rates ini­tia­tive we can un­lock – and we be­lieve we can – the bar­ri­ers that make young Black men un­der­per­form, and we can de­mon­strate that these in­ter­ven­tions are suc­cess­ful, then there’s no doubt in our minds that it can be repli­cated and have a tremen­dous ex­po­nen­tial ef­fect over time.” “my long-term re­la­tion­ship with Colleen Amos [oBe] was in­stru­men­tal in form­ing my con­cept,” states Leather­berry. “Colleen, with her sis­ter, baroness va­lerie Amos, founded Amos Bur­sary in 1999, a sup­port sys­tem for young Bri­tish men of African and Caribbean de­scent, and we have learned from their ex­pe­ri­ence. through our eLC mem­bers in the uK, we are able to sup­port Black male achieve­ment in both coun­tries. to cre­ate this eLC ini­tia­tive with her ex­pe­ri­ence and un­der the lead­er­ship of my first and most im­por­tant men­tor and friend, Wil­lie deese, just mul­ti­plies the bless­ings.” Char­i­ta­ble In­vest­ments and schol­ar­ships the eLC an­nu­ally ex­plores pur­pose­fo­cused and mis­sion-aligned char­i­ta­ble en­deav­ors that in­clude new ini­tia­tives, part­ner­ships and di­rected char­i­ta­ble giv­ing. Last year’s char­i­ta­ble in­vest­ments to­taled al­most $1 mil­lion, reach­ing 27 or­ga­ni­za­tions rang­ing from lead­er­ship de­vel­op­ment and in­tern­ship op­por­tu­ni­ties

“If through our Black Male Grad­u­a­tion Rates ini­tia­tive we can un­lock – and we be­lieve we can – the bar­ri­ers that make young Black men un­der­per­form…then there’s no doubt in our minds that it can have a tremen­dous ex­po­nen­tial ef­fect…”

for HBCu stu­dents to tech­ni­cal train­ing for en­trepreneur­s, so they can take their busi­nesses to the next level. the in­vest­ments this year ex­ceeded that amount. in ad­di­tion, with eLC funds and do­na­tions from in­di­vid­ual cor­po­rate spon­sors, the eLC pro­vided al­most $850,000 in schol­ar­ships in 2020 to more than 70 stu­dents at both un­der­grad­u­ate and grad­u­ate ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tions for aca­demic achieve­ment to: Al­varo L. martins schol­ars; Ann Fudge schol­ars; Na­tion­wide’s Fu­ture Lead­ers; bris­tol My­ers squibb schol­ars; Linde’s en­gi­neers of to­mor­row; raytheon tech­nolo­gies schol­ars win­ners of the Award for ex­cel­lence in Busi­ness Com­pe­ti­tion, spon­sored by the Coca-Cola Foun­da­tion; and win­ners of the na­tional Busi­ness Case Com­pe­ti­tion, spon­sored by ExxonMo­bil. As a schol­ar­ship ben­e­fit, all re­cip­i­ents par­tic­i­pate in an Hon­ors sym­po­sium that is de­signed to en­cour­age them to con­tinue their in­ter­est in busi­ness ca­reers.

the ELC In­sti­tute for Lead­er­ship De­vel­op­ment and re­search

the in­sti­tute has al­ways been re­spon­si­ble for de­vel­op­ing and pre­sent­ing a se­ries of unique train­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for Black cor­po­rate ex­ec­u­tives and an ev­er­ex­pand­ing pipe­line of younger Black cor­po­rate pro­fes­sion­als ready to fill their shoes. But over the last year, the in­sti­tute’s achieve­ments have mush­roomed.

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 ??  ?? Mor­gan Martins (left), the daugh­ter of the late ELC Founder Al­varo L. Martins, presents The ELC Al Martins Schol­ar­ship win­ners at The 2019 ELC An­nual Recog­ni­tion Gala. Al­varo Martins was a Xerox ex­ec­u­tive when he founded The Ex­ec­u­tive Lead­er­ship Coun­cil with 18 other Black cor­po­rate ex­ec­u­tives in 1986.
Mor­gan Martins (left), the daugh­ter of the late ELC Founder Al­varo L. Martins, presents The ELC Al Martins Schol­ar­ship win­ners at The 2019 ELC An­nual Recog­ni­tion Gala. Al­varo Martins was a Xerox ex­ec­u­tive when he founded The Ex­ec­u­tive Lead­er­ship Coun­cil with 18 other Black cor­po­rate ex­ec­u­tives in 1986.

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