Another Reason To Cheer GM's New CEO Mary Barra

Jan 10 2014, 3:42pm CST | by

Another Reason To Cheer GM's New CEO Mary Barra

Amidst all the celebration over General Motors’ appointment of its first female CEO, Mary Barra, I’m impressed and excited by something else: The fact that Barra comes to this lofty position after 33 years with the company.

To me Barra’s ascent represents a victory for old-fashioned reciprocity between companies and workers.  As journalist Louis Uchitelle reminds us in The Disposable American, employers and workers once built “lasting attachments” with each other, seeing them as mutually beneficial. Not so in the 21st-century. In today’s rapacious environment companies either hop or threaten to relocate in search of tax-free zones. Workers respond to company capriciousness.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average American worker spends about 4.6 years at a company just a few months shy of qualifying for a match in the company retirement plan. The latest survey from Future Workplace indicates job-hopping is the new normal especially among Millennials, who average 15 to 20 jobs over the course of their working lives whereas Boomers of Barra’s vintage, born between 1957 and 1964, average just over 11 jobs, according to the BLS.

That said, it bears noting that one of the key factors prompting Millennial job hopping is the yearning for a good cultural fit, according to Net Impact’s Talent Report for 2012. In other words, job hopping doesn’t reflect a lack of interest in stability. Rather, it reflects the importance Millennials place on having a meaningful relationship with their company.

That’s something Barra has in spades. The daughter of a die maker, who put in 40 years with GM, Barra essentially came of age at GM. She began her own relationship with the automaker at age 18 as a co-op student enrolled in the engineering program at the General Motors Institute, now Kettering University. (GM later sent her to Stanford to earn an MBA.) Over her decades with the company, she worked in a wide range of functions including engineering, communications, and human resources.

As president of the women’s network at the Chicago university where I work, I of course find it especially heartening that the veteran leader who now heads GM is a woman. While reciprocity is gender-neutral—valuable across the board—it is especially important for women who have historically been far less likely to ascend to leadership ranks. I have seen first-hand the impact of extending reciprocity to other women building their careers, creating pathways for them to become more visible to each other as well as management. I know from personal experience that cultivating women leaders yields long-term returns.

Mary Barra’s ascent to the pinnacle of GM is a refreshing reminder that reciprocity is alive and well in at least some corners of corporate America. She is not simply the first woman to head GM. She is also a woman with more than three decades at the company—an accomplishment that, to my mind, is just as worth celebrating.

Joy Boggs is president of the Women’s Network at DePaul University in Chicago, where she works in the Office of the General Counsel. She is currently a Public Voices Fellow with the OpEd Project.

Source: Forbes Auto

 
 

Don't miss ...

 

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/30" rel="author">Forbes</a>
Forbes is among the most trusted resources for the world's business and investment leaders, providing them the uncompromising commentary, concise analysis, relevant tools and real-time reporting they need to succeed at work, profit from investing and have fun with the rewards of winning.

 

blog comments powered by Disqus

Latest stories

IPad Air Giveaway 2014 is Online
IPad Air Giveaway 2014 is Online
Our sister site I4U News is giving away a brand new iPad Air or if you can wait an iPad Air 2. This is an $499 value.
 
 
Your Parent Or Kid Moved In: Are You Covered?
A record 57 million Americans now live in multigenerational family households — double the number in 1980, according to a new Pew Research Center study. And I bet many of them have the wrong homeowner’s or renters...
 
 
Pandora Looks to Challenge Terrestrial Radio's Dominance in Cars
Pandora Media is one of the largest Internet radio providers in the U.S. with more than 75 million active users. While the company’s active user count has increased at a robust pace historically, it is likely to slow...
 
 
Are General Manager Salaries About To Skyrocket? Will There Be A Front Office Salary Cap?
Are General Manager Salaries About To Skyrocket? Will There Be A Front Office Salary Cap?
It’s January 2026. New York Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner gets out of his driverless car and triumphantly marches before the gathered press to introduce his prized new free agent. It’s a record-breaking contract—over...
 
 
 

Latest from the Network

910 militants, 82 soldiers killed in North Waziristan
Islamabad, Sep 3 (IANS) At least 910 militants and 82 Pakistani soldiers have been killed in operation Zarb-i-Azb in North Waziristan, the military said Wednesday. The statement issued by the Inter-Services Public...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
'Headscarf instils positive body image in British Muslim women'
London, Sep 3 (IANS) British Muslim women who wear a hijab (headscarf) generally have a more positive body image, are less reliant on media messages about beauty ideals and place less importance on appearance than...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Console games new threat to global climate: Study
New York, Sep 3 (IANS) Console games downloaded over broadband internet are causing more greenhouse gas emissions than Blu-ray discs delivered via retail stores, new research reveals. It is not always true that...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Human greed driving species towards extinction: Study
Washington, Sep 3 (IANS) In a disturbing trend, scientists have reported that species are becoming extinct as much as 1,000 times more frequently - 10 times worse than the previous estimates - owing to human population...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Kelly Brook's traumatic childhood
Kelly Brook has opened up about ''violent and horrific'' memories from her childhood. The 35-year-old actress has revealed that although she enjoyed some aspects of growing up on a council estate in Kent, South East...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Emmy Rossum not 'easy'
Emmy Rossum insists she's not ''easy'' like her 'Shameless' character. The 27-year-old actress stars as Fiona Gallagher in the US remake of the hit series and she's revealed that although she's had sex on a first date,...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
2016 NASA asteroid mission awaits your messages
Washington, Sep 3 (IANS) NASA has invited the public to submit short messages and images on social media that could be placed in a time capsule aboard a spacecraft to be launched in 2016 for an asteroid study. Called...
Read more on Apple Balla
 
Exercise can stem frequent night urination in men
New York, Sep 3 (IANS) Men who are physically active are at lower risk of nocturia - waking up at night to urinate, says a study. Nocturia is the most common and bothersome lower urinary tract affliction in men. "...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Nippon Life keen to hike stake in Reliance Life
Tokyo, Sep 3 (IANS) Nippon Life Insurance of Japan wants to hike its stake in its Indian joint venture Reliance Life Insurance to 49 percent from 26 percent, when India notifies the decision of higher foreign equity...
Read more on Business Balla
 
Sex hormones linked to sudden cardiac arrest
New York, Sep 3 (IANS) In what could lead to prevention of sudden cardiac arrest, a study led by an Indian-origin cardiologist has found that levels of sex hormones in the blood are linked to the heart rhythm disorder...
Read more on Celebrity Balla