It’s not surprising our stakeholders continue to identify customer satisfaction as General Motors’ most material issue. This aligns completely with our purpose to earn customers for life, and customer satisfaction ensures the long-term sustainability of our business in a highly competitive marketplace. Research has shown that companies who lead in customer experience generally enjoy a higher stock valuation than those who lag in customer experience. When you consider that a single percentage point improvement in U.S. sales retention is equivalent to selling about 25,000 vehicles, or approximately $700 million in annual revenue, the business benefits are compelling.
Everything we do is guided by what’s best for our customers. Appreciating them and working each day to earn their loyalty is what drives us to make better and safer cars, trucks and crossovers. Safety and quality form the foundation on which our business is built. Our customers depend on our vehicles and technologies to safely and reliably transport them and their families on life’s journeys.
We are committed to find and implement solutions to reduce the CO2 emissions of our global vehicle fleet, which represents 77 percent of our annual carbon footprint. In addition to the environmental benefits, reducing CO2 emissions is a smart business strategy. Developing fuel-efficient vehicles that deliver on our long history of quality also saves our customers money over the life of their purchase. In addition, almost every market where we sell vehicles has implemented aggressive fuel-economy and carbon-emissions regulations, so our steadfast work to reduce emissions is important for long-term business success.
In order to stay competitive and relevant as a company, we must attract and retain the brightest talent around the world. Today, we compete for that talent against other automotive companies and, increasingly, against businesses in other sectors such as technology. To win and keep talent, we must provide a workplace culture that encourages the development of our employees’ full potential, fulfills their long-term individual aspirations and achieves full engagement. We also are mindful that our global customer base is diverse. Our global workforce must reflect that diversity and possess a diverse set of insights, skills and experiences in order to meet our customers’ needs.
Our mission is to become the world’s most valued automotive company. We want to do business the right way and win with integrity. That requires trust and transparency. Taking personal responsibility for our actions is critical to the success of our company. People trust us to deliver on our promise to do business ethically and design, build and sell safe, high-quality vehicles. Employees and visitors to our facilities expect us to operate in a safe environment that allows them to return home safely. We live our values and do what’s right for each other, our customers and the communities where we work around the globe.
There are very few companies that operate at GM’s level globally – more than 225,000 employees; 400 facilities, including more than 170 manufacturing plants; and affiliations with nearly 20,000 locally owned dealerships worldwide. Locally, this scale means that we impact hundreds of communities around the world. Globally, that scale gives us enormous influence to innovate in the areas of environmental and social excellence. Moreover, when we reduce our operational impact, we operate more efficiently. Efficient operations translate into lower cost structures and higher levels of quality, both of which ultimately benefit our customers.
In order to build the most valuable automotive company, we must recognize that our impacts go beyond the walls of GM to include our entire value chain, of which suppliers make up a significant part. The importance of strong supply chain management and relationships is further underscored as new issues arise due to business expansion into emerging markets and increased participation in more advanced technologies, such as electrification. We regard our supply base as an extension of our company, and we seek to partner with suppliers who share our purpose and values. We expect our employees working with suppliers to hold them accountable to the same environmental principles and ethical standards to which we hold our own employees and operations so we all win with integrity.
We believe the automotive industry is changing more today than it has in the past 50 years. A global population shift toward cities and changing demographics that include an aging Baby Boomer generation and coming-of-age millennials is driving this change. In addition, significant advances in areas such as electrification, connectivity and autonomous technology are being realized. Combined, these changes provide us with an enormous opportunity to offer new transportation services, provide mobility access for everyone, and improve congestion, air quality and vehicle safety. In short, we have a generational opportunity to create a world where sustainable transportation is a reality for daily life.
One of our corporate purposes is to serve and improve the communities in which we live and work around the world. Business sustainability is directly linked to the health of the communities in which GM and its customers reside. Our mutual long-term success is interdependent with these communities as we share many of the same natural resources and depend upon a local workforce of talented individuals. We have a strategic interest in that workforce being well-educated, particularly in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), given the increasing level of advanced technology in the automotive industry. Our business viability also has both direct and indirect impacts on local economic vitality in the form of providing jobs and contributing to the local tax base.
For General Motors, the Board of Directors’ mission is to represent the owners’ interest in the long-term health and the overall success of the business and its financial strength. The Board and management team are singularly focused on the long-term interest of all of our shareholders. We have a highly engaged Board with a diverse range of expertise that drives effective oversight of our strategic priorities and operations. We encourage healthy constructive debate and we regularly challenge ourselves to make the tough decisions that are essential in times of significant change and required to advance transformation.