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During the period of between 1971 and 1990 there were several ethnical issue that was affecting General Motors. These issues were
i. Minorities, women and Employment issues
ii. International issues that came as a result of globalization
iii. Energy and the environment.
iv. Automotive safety
Minorities, women and employment issues
In 1960 a public interest report showed that the majority of GMs employees were male whites. It was very categorical that there were very few non whites and women employed in the company. The few women who were employed in the company did not occupy any key position like management, technical staff or professionals categories but only occupied the lower position is the hierarchy. It was also alegded that in 1975 ,GM dismissed, in a lay off, a great number of minority workers, an allegation to which GM responded and said that in deed there was a layoff which was done on the basis of seniority which was against the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Another issue that greatly added up to the number of unemployed persons was the increased number was the increase number of plant closings which Gm attributed to increase in competition from other motor vehicle manufacturing plants, increase in the cost of production which came as a result of the increase in the cost of technology and raw materials
Energy and environment
In 1971, GM was encountering a problem regarding industrial pollution which was a common phenomenon during the process of production of vehicles. Still on the energy and environment, some other issues such as vehicle emission standards and fuel efficiency also emerged. GM was also faced with the question of improving fuel efficiency which they planned to achieve through the improvement of the engine system, aerodynamics and manufacturing of tyres with reduced drag but the efficiency, a question was worsened by the oil embargo which was imposed by the Arabs
GM was in the process of opening branches in different countries of the world. It was in the process of marketing the vehicles it had produced worldwide but it was facing regulatory interference in these countries specifically in South Africa where apartheid really crippled it operations it even once in 1971 received a letter for a church in South Africa requesting it to get out of South Africa
This was yet another dilemma that was faced by GM. GM was really concerned with the how the public view its vehicles. The company really tried to create a positive impression of its vehicle. This was done through bumper tests, the effectiveness of inertial shoulder restraints and many other tests with the effort of assuring the general public that their vehicles were indeed very safe.
This section highlights how GM handled the dilemma that it was faced with.
These philanthropic activities were for the purpose of improving the living standards of women and the minority groups and also giving back to the community which is a very important ethical issue in business3.
In 1979 the company was involved in three major activities these were
i. Starting the GM foundation
ii. Planting major committees
iii. And lastly, the company was also involve in some other major contributions like sponsoring major activities for women and minorities, giving scholarships, funding local women organization and giving grants to hospitals among other things.
All these were done with the sole aim of was local participation of women and the minorities in the country. Through this the company really tried to create opportunities in education which was very much needed as far as the women and minorities were concerned. The company also undertook to train its employers on literacy skills especially those with literacy problems. Some were also paid for by the company to go for employee support programs and HIV/AIDS education. On the part of promoting learning of subjects like maths, the company initiated projects like the mathematics competition to encourage high school and college students not to shy from these subjects. This was because winners from such competitions would be given scholarship and also other awards for instance money. Another important contribution of the company was the revitalization of the new Center Area in north Detroit together with the starting of a medical institute where the company would yearly give awards for researches. All these efforts showed how General Motors under the stewardship of Sullivan was trying to touch the lives of the minorities and women. On the part of equal employment for all, the company was to give equal opportunities to all regardless of age, color, race or gender. This was according to the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
The company would also give financial support to business ideas generated by women and the minority groups in form of loans, start up capital, any other related expense that one would encounter in the name of coming up with a business. GM even formed a women advisory committee and handle matters affecting employed women. GM also was involved in a number of activities aimed at improving the working conditions of employees. These were for instance providing housing facilities to the employees. This effort was even further enhanced by the establishment of a program name Quality of Work Life (QWL) whose objective was to carry out research on the quality of life of the workers and give recommendations where possible.
Concerning automotive safety, the company rally wanted to make the public aware of its effort to improving its automotive safety. In this line the company tried to device a mechanism in its automotive that see to it the occupants in the automotive were maintained in an inertial state in the event of a crash. GM was also looked for ways of including air bags on the dash board of its vehicle to cushion the driver and the passenger against hitting the dash board in the event of a collision.
On the issue of energy and environment, the company invested in researches aimed at coming up with engines which were environmentally friendly and consumed minimal amounts of fuel through improving the efficiency of their vehicles. They were even considering of coming up with vehicles which produced smog-they suggested that smog is essentially ozone- to reduce the amount of CFCs being emitted into the environment when petrol is burnt.