The GM Recall Just Got a Little Worse #Cover-Up

Image Courtesy of CBS News

Image Courtesy of CBS News

In January, GM was riding an all-time high, winning both truck and car of the year at the Detroit Auto Show. Politicians and industry leaders were lining up to offer their praise and approval.

Oh, how the mighty have fallen.

Instead of building off of their success, GM is now dealing with questions about their past and a possible cover-up scandal.

This scandal is circulating around a recall of roughly 1.6 million vehicles in February of this year. The recall was performed because of a faulty ignition switch that could shut off the engine and disable safety systems. This malfunction has been linked to 31 frontal end crashes and 13 deaths over the course of the past decade. Now, there have been reports that the businessmen in the upper echelon of GM may have known about this problem 10 years ago and still went on dealing the vehicles.

These rumors have led to an investigation of the company. This week, regulators from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have begun an in-depth examination of the company, starting with a 27 page survey that includes 107 questions about the timeline of events leading to the recall. GM has until April 3rd to finish what is assumed to be a several hundred page report of events.

gm2Addressing what will be done with the report, the NHTSA said in a released statement on their website, “The Special Order is part of the agency’s ongoing investigation into the timeliness of General Motors’ recall of faulty ignition switches to determine whether GM properly followed the legal processes and requirements for reporting recalls… We are a data-driven organization, and we will take whatever action is appropriate based on where our findings lead us.”

Mary Barra, who took over as CEO in January, is already trying to weather the storm with an internal investigation. On Tuesday, she sent a letter to GM employees stating that the company would be taking an “unvarnished” look at how the process was handled.

To handle the public and the swarming media, GM released this statement earlier this week: “We are fully cooperating with NHTSA and we welcome the opportunity to help the agency have a full understanding of the facts. In addition to getting NHTSA the information they need, we are doing what we can now to ensure our customers’ safety and peace of mind. We want our customers to know that today’s GM is committed to fixing this problem in a manner that earns trust.”

For the new GM led by Barra, they have handled this scandal the best that they can. But the question still remains: will the public forgive and forget, chalking this up to corrupt leaders that are no longer around? Only time will tell.

Mary Barra Gets Due Credit During the State of the Union

stateoftheunion32014 has been the year of Mary Barra. Earlier this month, she was officially handed the position as the CEO of GM, and since then, she’s been featured on countless magazine covers and in depth articles. Everybody wants a piece, including everyone in the political arena.

Last night, President Barack Obama gave his State of the Union Address and spent a portion of it praising Barra and the American auto industry. In his speech, the President said, “Our success should depend not on accident of birth, but the strength of our work ethic and the scope of our dreams. It’s how the daughter of a factory worker is CEO of America’s largest automaker. [Mary Barra illustrates] the strength of our work ethic and the scope of our dreams.” Currently, the Barra led American auto industry  is doing the best it has in years, signaled by the US Treasury selling off the last of its GM stock in December.

stateoftheunionDuring the speech, Barra sat one row behind Michelle Obama and inside of the first lady’s specialized box. The entire night was a testament to not only the resurgence of the auto industry, but the growing power of women in the workplace.

After the State of the Union, Barra said, “I was honored to accept the first lady’s invitation, and delighted to represent the men and women of GM who are doing their best to make GM a company that Americans can be proud of again. America’s resurgent auto industry is a great comeback story and its contribution to our nation’s economy should be a source of bipartisan pride. GM is doing its part to help lead a stronger auto industry that is creating new jobs and technologies.”

stateoftheunion2Of course, this isn’t Barra’s first run in with a major political figure this year. Earlier this year, Hillary Clinton was waiting in the wings to lavish praise on GM’s new CEO. During an interview at the National Automobile Dealers Association convention in New Orleans, Clinton said, “I’m excited about GM’s new CEO- you might guess I would be. I guess you could say she broke through the steel ceiling, not the glass ceiling…It sends a really good signal to little girls and little boys across our country that we don’t have a person to waste.”

Many critics are saying that the support from Hillary and the Obama’s is only political propaganda. Undoubtedly, some of this true, but there is a bigger story here, a story that deserves to be void of political criticism. The story: the American auto industry is doing great, women are making progress, and the world is a better place for it.

How Mary Barra Is Grabbing Respect for Women in the Auto Industry

Dan Akerson stepped down as GM's CEO to care for his ailing wife. He decided Barra would be the best person to fill his shoes.

Dan Akerson stepped down as GM’s CEO to care for his ailing wife. He decided Barra would be the best person to fill his shoes.

Earlier this week at the Detroit Auto Show, GM officially named Mary Barra as the company CEO, making her an instant celebrity. Immediately after the announcement, she was hounded by reporters looking for a comment.

“How does it feel to be the head of GM?”

“What are your plans for the future? Are you ready for the job?”

“How does it feel to be a woman?”

In her typical fashion, Barra remained calm and collected, simply stating that she was “humbled” by the announcement.

Looking at Barra’s demeanor during the event, it’d be hard to notice that anything out of the ordinary was happening. After all, this is something that she was born to do and something that she has been working for her entire life. Barra’s father worked as a die maker for Pontiac for 39 years, teaching his daughter the ins and outs of an automobile. In a recent New York Times interview, Barra says, “I had a basic understanding of the automobile industry and what the manufacturing world was like, just from the opportunity to spend time with [my father]- just talking, because he was a car buff.”

Her relationship with her father and the interest that he sparked in her influenced her decision to study electrical engineering, a field that she would eventually receive a master’s degree in from Stanford. During her entire education, Barra also worked at GM, rising up through the ranks and learning about every aspect of the company.

But with the announcement of Barra’s new position, there are still many doubters. Undoubtedly, this has to do with her being a woman. Articles like, “GM CEO Marry Barra: The Cameras Love Her. So Do Employees. But Will Investors?” are already planting unwarranted seeds in the public’s mind that the cut throat market won’t love her and that her femininity is only good for turning cameras and charming employees.

Of course, the irony of questions like this is: a company’s success has nothing to do with gender. After all, this company has always been run by men, and it was eventually run into the ground by them, too. Over the years, the question of gender has often come up with Barra. Much of this has to do with the male-dominated nature of the automotive industry. In an article released by CBC News, Tracy King- a regional manager for Porsche- says, “You’re having a hard time finding females, especially in the European brand. We have zero executive heads that are female.”

Mary Barra is the first CEO in GM's long history

Mary Barra is the first female CEO in GM’s long history

Like always, none of this seems to affect Barra. Instead, she focuses on the improving conditions and tries to stay humble; “I think there are more women in more senior roles than in 1980 when I started. But from my perspective, I don’t go into a room and take count. I want to be recognized for my contribution and for what I do. Yeah, there were probably times it was to my benefit, and there were probably times when it was not to my benefit. But that is true for everyone. There are always things that potentially impact how you are received. And I just don’t focus on it. I don’t focus on what you can’t control.”

In the upcoming years, GM has high ambitions. This year, they plan to release 15 (15!!!) new or refreshed vehicles here in the U.S. Also, GM has said that they hope to expand and improve divisions like Cadillac, which are pivotal to the company’s success. With such lofty goals, GM understood that they couldn’t take a chance in appointing their new CEO. That’s why they chose Barra, woman or not.