Who’s to blame at GM?

It isn’t fair to focus the blame on Mary Barra for a decade of mistakes at General Motors.

by Luis Ruuska

Though Mary Barra has only been the CEO of General Motors for three months, she’s received enough criticism and public scrutiny for a lifetime.

The pillory against Barra began after GM issued a recall in February for 800,000 vehicles with faulty ignition switches that could cause vehicles to turn off on the road.

So far, the recalled vehicles have been linked to the deaths of at least 13 people.

Though a corporate email showed that multiple GM executives knew about the faulty engine switches as early as 2005 — and that they could have fixed them for 57 cents per switch — the Senate subcommittee in charge of the investigation has seemingly set their targets on Barra.

Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., went so far as to say that, “woman to woman,” she was “very disappointed” in Barra for her alleged dedication to prioritizing the “status quo” over GM’s customers. Barra is the first woman to serve as CEO of GM.

Though it may be somewhat justified, the relentless criticism against Barra fails to place blame where blame is due.

A cover-up of this scale does not start or end with GM’s CEO, much less someone who has only been in office for three months.

The designers of the ignition switch should share the blame, as well as the quality managers that failed to catch this massive lapse in safety.

What about the engineers at Delphi, the company that supplies GM with the ignition switches, which failed to change the part number that would distinguish the defunct switches from the usable ones?

What about Barra’s predecessors from the past decade? If anyone was instrumental in this cover-up, it was be them — yet there’s been little public outcry to blame them.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not making excuses for Barra. This fiasco is an example of the “profit over people” corporate mentality at its worst, and she must take responsibility for her company.

But just because Barra is the easiest and most visible target doesn’t mean she should be the only one. Many others at GM are to blame for this situation. It’s time to hold them equally responsible.