It’s been a rough year for General Motors, but most of the brunt has been borne by CEO Mary Barra and other executives. But what about those behind the scenes like the board of directors?
The New York Times has reported that the board was just as clueless as we were, as safety was low on the totem pole to them at the time. In fact, it was revealed that the last time safety was discussed was in October 2013, so you can imagine by February 2014 the board was “shocked” when the recalls began. “We didn’t understand the enormity of the situation at the beginning, because I don’t think management did,” said board chairman Theodore Solso, adding that he was “stunned” when he heard from Anton Valukas how the ignition switch situation had previously been handled. Judging by the subsequent lawsuits that allege the company’s value has been hurt, other investors weren’t happy either.
Unnamed company officials also told The NYT that they didn’t have faith in then-new CEO Mary Barra and general counsel Michael Millikin. “It was a little bit of Mary and a whole lot of Millikin,” said one official, feeling both of them had too much power in responding to the debacle.
Solso added that “the ignition switch recall basically raised the bar in terms of increased involvement.” Now, a few months later, safety is a topic that carries much more weight than it did before − board members will likely be more involved with safety issues when meetings convene.