General Motors may be facing one of its worst public relations disasters in its history following the ignition switch recall crisis, but CEO Mary Barra is determined to see to it that the company walks away from the situation having learned lessons on company culture and ethical business practices.
The automaker released their findings of the recall crisis last week in a 325-page report put together by US attorney Anton Valukas. The report highlighted a flawed company culture within GM, full of incompetence and inaction, but it also contained recommendations and plans to prompt major change.
“This is not just another business crisis for GM,” Barra said in her speech announcing the report’s findings. “We aren’t simply going to fix this and move on. We are going to fix the failures in our system — that I promise. But I never want to put this behind us.”
Following its bankruptcy filing in 2009, GM was appointed a government-funded task force which was supposed to set “New GM” up for success by removing the virtual “silos” which separated different departments at the company from each other and ridding of its infamous and complex bureaucratic ways. However the Valukas Report put into perspective just how much more of an uphill battle Barra will face as she attempts to continue onward with this task.
Barra said she will take into account the recommendations mentioned in the Valukas Report going forward, in addition to implementing some of its own improvements.
“We didn’t do our job. We failed these customers. We must face up to it and learn from it,” she said. “We pledge that we will use the findings and recommendations from this report as a template for strengthening our company.”
One of the recommendations was advertising GM’s new ‘Speak Up for Safety’ campaign, which encourages and recognizes employees for contributing ideas that make vehicles safer, as well as encouraging employees to speak up when they see something that could have a negative effect on customer safety. The report also mentioned six solutions for enhancing supplier relationships, something the automaker has consistently struggled with, and suggested they encourage a closer relationship between its legal and engineering departments.
It will be a long road for Barra, a life-long employee of GM, as she attempts to repair the automaker’s flawed practices and lead it through this crisis. Luckily for her, she has the Valukas Report to serve as a foundation for cultural change.