GM is the latest example that expression such as Corporate Social Responsibility should forever be banned from any conversation in our society. Following revelation that GM Executive Management rejected engineering advice to install safer ignition switch – which costs the lives to 13 people and injuries to 30 others – the current GM CEO, Mrs. Mary Barra, had to appear before Congress to provide comprehensive details on the issue, respond to inquiries and provide a roadmap of the steps the new GM is taking to fix the problem. Well over 2.5 million cars were affected by the faulty ignition switch. GM Executive Management was aware of the problem since 2001, hid it, covered it up and did not even bother to issue a recall.
What’s a tragic end of a few lives as long as long as we get our bonuses! GM Executives must have reasoned.
It will not be until March 31, 2014, just two days prior to appearing before Congress that the newly appointed CEO, Mrs. Barra, issued order for recall. You don’t have to be a genius to figure out why she issued the order just before appearing before Congress. Mrs. Barra was appointed as GM CEO since December 10, 2013.
Performance aside, Mrs. Barra, – first appearance in Washington under the circumstance must have been nerve racking – acknowledged that it was a problem that should have never happened; she promised to take steps to prevent similar situations from ever happening again. It was very comforting and reassuring to hear GM new CEO will do things differently.
Unfortunately, it was just lip service; Mrs. Barra lied to Congress. It didn’t take long for Mrs. Barra to act much like her predecessor. Less than two weeks after appearing before Congress, GM filed papers on Tuesday, April 15, 2014 to ask a federal bankruptcy judge to shield the company from legal claims related to any issue – including claims from victims of the faulty ignition switch – that occurred before its bankruptcy in 2009.
The idea that GM has turned a new page – by (or because of) appointing a female CEO – is wishful thinking. It’s much worse now; the new CEO doesn’t care a bit about the victims; she couldn’t even bring herself to assure Congress – with a national audience watching – that the company will care for the victims. Ironically, it was the taxpayers that came to GM rescue in 2009 with $50 billion dollars loan financing.
Under Mrs. Barra, GM is no better than before; Mrs. Barra is simply following the corporate greed mantra, with little to no regard for anybody, not even the consumers.
Corporate Social Responsibility is non-existent; Corporate Greed is a disease that has infected our society, much like a plague and Corporate Executives seem to wear it proudly, just like a badge of honor. Mrs Barra is just the newest member of the club.
How can we bring Corporate Social Responsibility back to Corporate America?
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