General Motors Corporation
GM’s Minority Dealer Development Program, the auto industry’s first and most successful diversity program, was under intense media and company scrutiny. Charges of discrimination, lawsuits and major negative publicity were mounting. The Reverend Jesse Jackson and other prominent civil rights leaders were paying close attention, and asking the company to take a hard look into the allegations. General Motors management agreed to undergo an independent review of its entire program, but the company was concerned about how the results would be released and the public reaction.
A multi-year strategy was developed for the client that included an extensive internal and external effort to communicate the results of the internal audit. Systems were developed to ensure optimal results for the program. To enhance communication between GM management and minority dealers, a handbook outlining programs and processes supporting minority dealers was published and distributed. Fair settlements of lawsuits were completed and audit recommendations adopted. Regular “Hot Topics” meetings identified dealers with financial difficulties and outlined courses of action. National civil rights leaders, elected officials and the media were systematically briefed on results.
National media attention turned positive as the General Motors’ Chairman and senior management led the turnaround. The company’s auto dealer senior management embraced goals and the program became a model for other companies. Among the accomplishments, by 2000 GM had the highest number of minority dealers of all the manufacturers. Over 80 percent of these dealers were profitable, up 17% from the previous year. Feature stories appeared in Fortune Magazine, Wall Street Journal, Automotive News, USA Today, top market dailies and other leading industry, business and general interest publications.