GM CEO Mary Barra Talks Sustainability with Chelsea Clinton During Climate Week

During Climate Week in New York earlier this week, our CEO Mary Barra took part in a Clinton Global Initiative plenary session on sustainability called, “Valuing What Matters”.
Sep 26, 2014 2:00 PM ET


Mary was joined on the panel by Jack Ma, executive chairman, Alibaba Group; Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, finance minister, Federal Republic of Nigeria; and Darren Walker, president, Ford Foundation.

Moderated by Chelsea Clinton, the discussion explored how our gross domestic product and financial profits are not sufficiently assessing and driving businesses’ long-term prosperity, yet it remains the go-to standard for measuring progress. The panelists provided their perspectives on how to redefine value to address economic as well as social and environmental challenges.

Mary’s approach to customer-driven sustainability is echoed in our sustainability report, practiced in our global operations and heard by more than 1,000 people at this session. Here are just a few soundbites in case you missed it.

  • On environmental sustainability being key to GM’s future:  “It’s what customers want. At GM, we’re really focused on putting the customer at the center of what we do. The customer has that expectation. It’s not an ‘or’, it’s an ‘and.’ They’re expecting to have winning vehicles, but also to have the fuel efficiency. It becomes a business priority.”
  • On sustainability driving business value: “There’s so much we can do with technologies, whether it electrification, whether it’s more fuel efficient internal combustion engines, whether it’s the connectivity that’ll change the way that we can attack safety, congestion and fuel economy. It all comes together. It starts with a customer expectation, but it’s a fundamental part of business.”
  • On doing the right thing: “When you look at the world being more connected, the world has become a lot smaller. It also has provided transparency of information so that everybody has higher expectations, as they should. Whether it’s a small company or a large company, there is an obligation. With opportunity comes the responsibility to do it the right way.”
  • On the industry’s future: “As you look at the future of the auto industry, I believe it’ll change more in the next five to 10 years than it has in the last 30 to 40 to benefit society. Look at the connectivity; vehicle to vehicle communication; and vehicle to infrastructure, which makes the cars fundamentally safer and reduces congestion. And then also from an environmental perspective. There is tremendous change happening in the auto industry.”
  • On transforming the industry: “It’ll only work if it’s collaborative. We have to do it together to get the maximum benefit.”

You can watch a replay of the Livestream here