General Motors Corporate Culture

General Motors Corporate Culture

Organization Description and Issue to Resolve

General Motors (GM) is the United States multinational company that has been operating since 1948. The company runs motor vehicle assembling plants, manufacturing sites, and distribution centers in different continents. The company’s primary products are engine automotive components and automobiles. GM enjoys a diverse workforce owing to its expanded operational base that extends all over the world.

Since its foundation, General Motors had been one of the most profitable organizations. However, at the beginning of the 21st century, the company’s management has been reluctant to address some of the workplace-related issues that have led to massive losses and lawsuits. For example,  in 2014, the company experienced a corporate culture crisis that comprised of management failing to acknowledge problems, leading to recalling of about 3.36 million cars (Shepherd & Vardiman, 2016). GM’s management seems to have not learned from its past mistakes as today is blamed for embracing a corporate culture that allows racism. The black employees are the main victims of racism that is perpetuated by the white counterparts in the company. For example, the company’s Ohio facility in 2018 was accused of failing to respond to the incidents of racism that were advanced to Marcus Boyd, the black supervisor, and other black employees.

According to the New York Post, when the black employees, including Marcus Boyd, reported the racism to the management, they were told to handle it themselves (Klausner, 2019). This shows that management cares less about the behavior of racism. The management would cover racist employees at the expense of the black individuals who were a victim. For example, in the Ohio case, the racist whites were not penalized even after the evidence showing that they were guilty. The black individuals were forced to ignore the racist remarks if they wanted to continue working in the company. GM’s management slow response to the racism behavior being reported by the black employees exhibits its reluctance to addressing individual employee concerns.

Organization’s Current Corporate Culture

GM’s current corporate culture is based on the company’s values, traditions, and unwritten rules governing the behavior of the employees. The culture focuses on promoting the automotive business to improve its position in the industry (General Motors, 2019). In doing so, the company promotes human resource agility to overcome the internal crisis and minimize the impact of competition from business rivals such as Ford and Toyota. By focusing on employees to overcome competition and improve performance, General Motors has been accused of developing a toxic work culture that does not address individual employee issues such as racism, as argued by (Gassam, 2019).Order Now from Course ResearchersGM’s desire to meet its vision of “creating zero crashes, zero-emission, and zero congestion and commit themselves leading the way towards the future” is being achieved at the expense of employees’ welfare (General Motors, 2019). The company’s culture perceives employees as the channel that should only be used to attain profitability and does very little to address the issues affecting them (BBC, 2019). For example, when problems occur in the workplace, the management lays blame on the employees, leading to internal crises that are negatively affecting the brand and the productivity of the company. The management is interested in employees’ contributions to organizational performance, but it is doing less to address their welfare (Welch, 2019).  In using the agility of human resources to achieve its competitive goals, GM had developed core values, including “innovation, responsibility, teamwork, and continuous improvement” (General Motors, 2019). However, the company has failed to honor some of its core values, including leadership responsibility, since the management has failed to acknowledge roles in the wake of individual employee problems such as racism.

Organization Area of Weakness

General Motors exhibits two leading areas of weaknesses: the toxic workplace culture that does not embrace diversity and management reluctance to address employees’ concerns. These problems are mainly caused by the organization’s corporate culture that perceives human resources as only important when contributing to organizational success with very little being done to improve their welfare. For example, when the black employees report the racism issue to the management, nothing is done, and they are expected to continue offering their skills to the company. The management has been reluctant to address the racism issues since it seems to have done very little or nothing to create awareness on the importance of workforce diversity. The failure of the management to create a friendly workplace for different races might lead to negative public perception as put forward by (Hudson 2014). This has happened to General Motors, with thousands of customers boycotting its products when the reports of management allowing racism to thrive were publicized. By embracing racism, General Motors has also faced lawsuits. These are some of the adverse effects discussed by Green et al. (2016)  that befalls the organization when it cannot create a  disciplined work environment.


Racism in the workplace is greatly affecting GM’s productivity and brand. GM will overcome the toxic workplace culture of discrimination, harassment, and racism by educating its employees on the benefits of workforce diversity and rewarding those who embrace inclusivity. By doing so, the company will gain benefits associated with diversity and inclusivity, such as reducing laws suits, widening marketing opportunities, increasing productivity, and enhancing creativity, as discussed by Green et al. (2016). Although GM has embraced inclusivity on its workforce, it is yet to create awareness to the employees on the importance of embracing inclusivity. This calls for motivation mechanisms to encourage the company’s entire workforce to appreciate diversity. Forma (2016) voted for rewarding as one of the leading ways to overcome cultural barriers of embracing diversity and inclusivity among the employees.

The management should change its perception towards employees and treat them as partners rather than the channel that can be used to meet the company’s profitability goals. GM will implement this by creating a formal system to document incidents of racism, harassment, and discrimination. The employee who portrays negative work behavior or misconduct should suffer serious consequences. The human resource team should address the causes of racism and discrimination immediately they are brought before them.

Reviewing the current General Motors leaders will be ideal in addressing the racism-characterized workplace. The employees might be naturally racists, but with leaders acting as a good example of ant-racism, the issues of harassment and discrimination in the workplace will reduce. The continued racism might have been fueled by the leaders who are not bothered to address the issue. The social learning theory states that individuals tend to learn from those around them (Warkentin, Johnston, & Shropshire, 2011). The GM white employees might have learned about racism behavior from their leaders, hence the need to assess the current management of its views on racism.


BBC. (2019, September 6). General Motors auto workers strike in US. Retrieved from BBC News: https://www.bbc.com/news/business-49709730

Foma, E. (2016). Impact of Workplace Diversity. Review of Integrative Business & Economics Research, 3(1), 382-390. Retrieved from http://www.sibresearch.org/uploads/2/7/9/9/2799227/riber_sk14-026_382-390.pdf

Gassam, J. (2019, January 21). How General Motors Can Overcome Its Toxic Work Culture. Retrieved May 3, 2020, from Forbes: https://www.forbes.com/sites/janicegassam/2019/01/21/how-general-motors-can-overcome-its-toxic-work-environment/#7e7bb9d04cac

General Motors. (2019). About GM. Retrieved from https://www.gm.com/our-company/about-gm.html

Green, K., LĂłpez, M., Wysocki, A., Kepner, K., Farnsworth, D., & Clark, J. L. (2016). Diversity in the Workplace: Benefits, Challenges, and the Required Managerial Tools. IFAS Extension, 1-3. Retrieved from https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/HR/HR02200.pdf

Hudson, S. W. (2014). Diversity in the Workforce. Journal of Education and Human Development, 3(4), 73-82. doi:10.15640/jehd.v3n4a7

Klausner, A. (2019, January 17). General Motors allowed a culture of racism, lawsuit claims. Retrieved from New York Post: https://nypost.com/2019/01/17/general-motors-allowed-a-culture-of-racism-lawsuit-claims/

Shepherd, I. J., & Vardiman, P. (2016). The General Motors Ignition Switch Incident Viewed Through a Proposed Economic Impact Severity Index. Journal of Management Policy and Practice, 17(1), 36-59.

Warkentin, M., Johnston, A. C., & Shropshire, J. (2011). The influence of the informal social learning environment on information privacy policy compliance efficacy and intention. European Journal of Information Systems, 2011(20), 267–284.

Welch, D. (2019, October 29). GM Gears Up for Post-Strike Growth After Slashing Outlook. Retrieved from Bloomberg: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-10-29/gm-cuts-forecast-sees-strike-s-full-year-cost-at-2-9-billion

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