General Motors Creates Safety Chief Position in Wake of Recall Spree

A significant measure of a company’s ethical worth revolves around how it responds in moments of crisis. And despite all its alleged faults leading up to its huge recall initially launched in January, General Motors (NYSE:GM) seems to be handling it rather well under the new leadership of Mary Barra.

In an ideal situation, the problem obviously wouldn’t have occurred in the first place. In a less ideal situation, the issue — defective ignition mechanisms that can shut down the car while in motion — would have been addressed immediately. In reality, there was a a delay of nearly thirteen years during which several people lost their lives as a result of the problem before any meaningful action was taken.

Determined to show the world that the new GM is different than the old GM — the company prior to its restructuring in the 2009 bailout — CEO Barra has been making what appears to be all the right moves to right the ship, from her personal apology in a message to General Motors employees to the $500 coupon for affected vehicle owners to put toward a new GM vehicle. The company seems to have made another strong turn on Tuesday, when it announced it was bringing on Jeff Boyer to fill a new position as vice president of global vehicle safety.

In his role, Boyer will be responsible for providing regular and frequent updates on vehicle safety to Barra, senior management, and the General Motors Board of Directors, the company said in an announcement. He will also oversee safety development of GM vehicle systems, confirmation and validation of safety performance, and post-sale safety activities, including recalls.

“Jeff’s appointment provides direct and ongoing access to GM leadership and the Board of Directors on critical customer safety issues,” said Barra. “This new role elevates and integrates our safety process under a single leader so we can set a new standard for customer safety with more rigorous accountability. If there are any obstacles in his way, Jeff has the authority to clear them. If he needs any additional resources, he will get them.”

Boyer will report to John Calabrese, the vice president of global vehicle engineering, and become a member of the global product development staff, led by Mark Reuss, the executive vice president of global product development, purchasing, and supply chain. Boyer’s been with the company since 1974 and has held several positions, most recent of which was executive director of engineering operations and systems development.

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