By Mary Barra
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer at General Motors
“Our vision at General Motors is to create a world with zero crashes, zero emissions and zero congestion. We know it won’t happen overnight, but given the upside of that future, we are pursuing our vision as aggressively as we can.
“The automotive industry helped transform the world – reshaping our physical world and fundamentally changing the way many people lead their lives. However, with mass mobility also came crashes, environmental impact and time wasted due to congestion.
“Tackling these issues is our responsibility. If not us, who? If not now, when?
“I’m sharing some insights from Dane Parker, our new (and first) Chief Sustainability Officer, on how we as a company, and as individuals, can think about sustainability in our strategy, our core operations, and our daily lives.
“You have extensive experience in sustainability and are coming into this new role after serving as VP of Sustainable Workplaces. Tell me what you are most excited for.
“Dane: I want every team member at GM to see and feel the direct impact they can have on achieving our zero emissions vision and our sustainability goals, as well as the positive difference their actions can make for our future. If we can help everyone understand their role in the larger vision, I know we will unlock our collective creativity, which in turn will have tremendous potential to bring about positive change. I’ve seen it happen in pockets and I can’t wait to see it unfold at a truly enterprise level.
“Like you, I’m excited about the potential to harness our scale for such broad and deep change. As an industry, what can we do to better manage climate change risks and mitigate the effects of transportation?
“Dane: Our transition to electric vehicles is key, and we must continue to minimize our own operational footprint and lead changes toward a circular economy – where waste is eliminated and materials are reused and recycled. Given our scale, anything we do in this area has a meaningful impact. The original “reduce, reuse, recycle” principles still apply to the industry and to us as individuals.
“You talk about our transition to electric vehicles, which is important because we also believe the future is all-electric. In this role, you will be responsible for leading the design and implementation of infrastructure for EVs at GM facilities – tell me more about this.
“Dane: We know most EV drivers want to charge primarily at home or at work. That is why it’s imperative we expand our campus charging infrastructure to help our own team members make this transition with confidence. At the same time, we are being thoughtful in our approach, as there is the challenge of simultaneously supporting our utility company partners in reducing their peak loads to create a “greener” grid. Ultimately, we need both EVs and a greener grid on which to charge them to enable a zero emissions future.
“Success will be reflected in meeting not only our sustainability goals, but also having a thriving business – and both are absolutely possible. In fact, that is what true sustainability means.
“That’s an important factor – and one that will play an important part in this role: not only monitoring our sustainability efforts, but to be an advocate and improve performance. Tell me more about what you want to achieve in this role and what success looks like.
“Dane: I believe when people can understand the “why,” they will lead improvements and progress on their own. I am confident there are many ideas and innovations just waiting to be discovered – and my goal is to unlock that potential. Success will be reflected in meeting not only our sustainability goals, but also having a thriving business – and both are absolutely possible. In fact, that is what true sustainability means…”
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