Auto executives call for unity and social justice in the midst of national turmoil

'Let's stop asking 'why' and start asking 'what.' What are we going to do?'

Detroit's automakers are calling on their employees to encourage dialogue in the midst of the international health crisis and America's social upheaval. 

"There is a big difference between seeing what's wrong and doing what's right," began GM CEO Mary Barra's letter dated Sunday.

"Let's stop asking 'why' and start asking 'what.' What are we going to do? In this moment, we each must decide what we can do — individually and collectively — to drive change ... meaningful, deliberate change. As one of the largest global companies, there is much we can do," she continued.

"We commit to inclusion; [w]e unequivocally condemn intolerance; [w]e stand up against injustice," Barra's letter said, citing the company's "longstanding values." 

Ford CEO Jim Hackett and Chairman Bill Ford Jr., delivered a similar message of unity and inclusion to company employees Monday, calling this "... an extraordinary moment in our history."

"There is no doubt that the weight of these challenges disproportionately fall on the black community," the Ford message said. "We have seen this disparity among our own Ford team members affected by COVID-19, and the legacy of economic disparities in our own home city of Detroit. It is pain that many of our team members have long felt in their daily lives."

"There are no easy answers. We are not interested in superficial actions. This is our moment to lead from the front and fully commit to creating the fair, just and inclusive culture that our employees deserve."

Ford and Hackett promised that their words will be backed with action, and announced new initiatives aimed at helping employees feel heard and acknowledged. The executives said they plan to meet with employees company-wide in order to encourage more open dialog about issues surrounding race and inclusion. 

"We also plan to ask leaders throughout the company to hold dialogues with their teams to understand how people are feeling and discuss how we can get better together. We promise to share updates as we continue on this journey," they said.

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