DETROIT — Detroit 3 executives Wednesday vowed to continue to take a stand against injustice and to be leaders in creating more inclusive workplaces and communities.
General Motors CEO Mary Barra, Ford Motor Co. Executive Chairman Bill Ford and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles North America COO Mark Stewart were part of a group of nine leaders from some of Detroit’s largest companies who spoke against racism and injustice during a media event here.
GM, Ford and FCA’s messages at the event follow letters sent to employees in recent days in which each company committed to creating awareness and taking action on racism and discrimination following nationwide protests over the death of George Floyd.
“These CEOs are here not only because they have chosen to respond to the pain and the anguish of injustice in the African American community today. They will remain committed to the roadway of justice and equity tomorrow,” the Rev. Wendell Anthony, president of the Detroit branch of the NAACP, said at the event.
There may not be a precise roadmap toward inclusion, said Barra, “but that’s not an excuse to not work on it and to not try,” she said. “Inclusion will be our North Star.”
GM aims to be part of meaningful and deliberate change, Barra said. In her letter to employees, Barra said she will commission and chair an inclusion advisory board by the end of this quarter.
“We will not allow ourselves the passivity of urging others to act. We will act,” she said. “We will stand up against injustice. And that means taking the risk of expressing unpopular or polarizing points of view, because complacency and complicity sit in the shadow of silence.”
Ford acknowledged that there are no easy solutions to combating discrimination “and we aren’t interested in superficial actions,” he said.
“This is our moment to lead and work together to effect real lasting change,” he said. “At Ford, we’re committed to listen, to engage with leaders, to build a city, a state and a country that provides access for all and to eliminate the fear that far too many African American members face each day.”
Stewart added that society has settled into a sense of complacency around social justice and FCA is committed to help lead the solution.
“I say to you today, no more. No more racism. It’s divisive. It’s ugly. And it brings about the worst of humanity,” he said. “We’ve got to continue to partner together — community leaders, business leaders, government, all of us — to find solutions to shift our society and stand against racism, against violence.”
All nine Detroit executives committed to:
- Reject and work to eliminate all forms of bias, racism, sexism and violence within their communities and companies.
- Call upon the appropriate government officials to hold accountable all individuals involved with the deaths that have occurred.
- Support the calls for an independent prosecution of those accused in order to demonstrate the fairness and eliminate possibilities of conflict in the course of this judicial process.
- Invest in programs and policies that help to transform disparities as the executives remain partners in progress locally and nationally.