Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

If Diversity Is Good for GM, Isn't It Good for America?

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

If Diversity Is Good for GM, Isn't It Good for America?

Article excerpt

"What is good for the country is good for General Motors, and vice versa."

_ Former GM President Charles Wilson

If the recent Supreme Court decision that narrows the scope of affirmative action is good for America, you'd expect GM to be joining the rush to reconsider its commitment to equal opportunity.

But that's not happening.

To the contrary, the nation's largest company is taking the position that merely keeping up with current attitudes and laws on the subject is a fool's game that will be lost to those who "push the envelope" and promote ever broader concepts of diversity.

"I want our competitors to just deal with affirmative action," said GM Vice President William C. Brooks, "because we'll kill 'em."

If Wilson's memorable logic holds true, the position Brooks articulates begs this question: If moving beyond affirmative action is good for GM, shouldn't the rest of us start embracing diversity? Or at least consider GM's case for bucking the trend against integration that the Supreme Court has made politically correct.

The case is made emphatically by Brooks, a former assistant labor secretary who now oversees GM programs to embrace diversity as a resource to be developed, not an obstacle to be overcome.

You've got to look at affirmative action in the context of an economy that is becoming more global and a nation that is becoming more demographically complex, he said.

And you've got to stop approaching it as a social and moral issue.

"Diversity is a business issue." And managing it correctly "gives you a competitive advantage."

Brooks outlined GM's philosophy on the economic correctness of managing diversity during an interview and in a speech to the annual conference of the Society for Human Resource Management in Orlando.

Affirmative action aims to build a workforce that looks diverse. …

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