December 13, 2013
The big news of a woman holding the reign of power at GM is indeed a sustainability coup. Sustainability embraces sustainable ecosystems that are inclusive enabling various intelligences to fortify the systems for long-term durability. The news of “GM names Mary Barra as car industry’s first woman CEO” is big news and reshapes the OEM dynamic that has for so long been male dominated.
As I have interviewed many women in their journey to leadership it is never easy being the outlier. Barra, from her role as “the executive vice president of global product development and global purchasing, will take over for current chief executive Dan Akerson on Jan. 15.”
All eyes will be on Barra to perform in this uncertain economy and expectations are higher than her male counterparts to raise the bar and sell, as well as produce profitability for this leading OEM. Despite the organization is changing leadership the company will need aid of organizational change to manage the new found complexities.
“The selection of Barra, 51, to lead GM into the future marked the latest in a spate of appointments of woman chief executives to corporations long seen as dominated by men. Last year, the technology firm Yahoo named a woman as president and CEO. Also, women have been named in recent years to run defense contractors General Dynamics Corp. and Lockheed Martin as well as computer giants IBM and Hewlett-Packard,” report from Washington Post.
Time posts in “GM’s New Boss Is a Woman, but the CEO Gender Gap Is Still Gaping“ that “The trend line for women CEOs of Fortune 500 companies looks pretty good on the surface. In the past 10 years, the number has more than quadrupled. In January, when Barra and Jacqueline Hinman (of the global engineering firm CH2M Hill) start their new jobs, 24 Fortune 500 companies will have a female CEO, up from six a decade ago. In 2011 alone, the number grew from 12 to 18.”
The growth is exponential but yet small. The rise of women is not the equivalent of equity but in the adage a good start. Leadership is not transparent but has a face of gender, race and discipline that is reflected in power adoption. Barra is one more step to changing dynamics for fairer leadership play with the changing business acumen.