We know we do well by doing good. That’s why we work to ensure that community programs are embedded in our decision-making and business processes around the world. Our social impact strategy accelerates our efforts by placing a sharp focus on investments that create sustainable economic growth around the world. At the same time, it provides an approach that allows us to create and measure positive social change and business outcomes. Our strategy is built around three key pillars: STEM education, vehicle and road safety, and sustainable communities. For each of these pillars, we employ a four-step social impact framework to determine areas where we have the most potential for impact:
1. Analyze—Look at the landscape of a problem to understand root causes and existing pain points. Determine how GM as a business can uniquely contribute.
2. Assess and Align—Use a decision-making tool to determine what programs we will continue to support and scale, what new types of programs we will support, and what programs no longer fit our priorities.
3. Activate—Identify specific social impact outcomes and solicit programs that will help us achieve those outcomes.
4. Measure and Evaluate—Quantify the impact of programs and map impact to each social outcome.
Potential partners also use this framework when applying for grants. Based on the pillar with which an organization is aligned, each applicant must explain the indicators and social outcomes that their program will address. This alignment ensures our community investments are used to make quantifiable positive impacts in their respective focus areas.
STEM EducationAdvancing Education in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Subjects
Vehicle & Road SafetyFueling Safer Practices In and Around Vehicles
Sustainable CommunitiesStrengthening Neighborhoods and Empowering Residents
|Target Indicator||Number of students with employable labor skills for careers in STEM||The reduction of vehicle-related injuries and deaths||The number of youth and adults who have the requisite skills for employment and decent jobs|
|Program Population||Third–12th grade and college students, with a special emphasis on women and minorities||Parents, grandparents, young drivers and children||The poorest districts and neighborhoods within select global communities|
Technological innovation is driving a sea change in the automotive industry. Today’s vehicles have tens of millions of lines of digital code and integrate thousands of parts. This makes STEM education more important than ever to training the workforce of tomorrow. Yet too few students are pursuing STEM-related education and degrees, leading to a looming talent gap for our future workforce.
This gap exists at all levels of education, especially in the U.S. A 2016 report by the National Science Foundation revealed that nearly half of all first degrees awarded in China are in STEM fields, while in the U.S., only about one in three are. The problem begins much earlier than higher education, however. The Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study, for example, reports lagging scores for U.S. students as early as fourth grade. By high school, according to the Programme for International Student Assessment, the U.S. ranks 38th out of 71 countries in math ability, and 30th among the 35 Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development member countries.
Members of the GM FIRST Robotics team.
Gaps between men and women, and between whites and minorities, also are significant. As the number of white students who earned STEM degrees grew 15 percent in the last five years, the number of black students fell by roughly the same margin, according to the US News/Raytheon STEM Index, 2016. Women lag behind men overall in exam scores and in the number of STEM degrees granted. In the U.S., only 18 percent of computer science majors and 10 percent of information security professionals are women.
Given the strategic importance of STEM education to the long-term sustainability of our business, GM and our employees are involved in more than 100 STEM education initiatives around the world annually. We choose initiatives and partners using a research-based analysis of various challenges, such as teacher shortages, quality of teaching and learning, high attrition rates for underrepresented minorities, low student engagement and inequities and inequalities in STEM education. The programs are in four emerging areas with the potential to drive transformative solutions, which make up what we call the STEM Impact Compass:
In keeping with GM’s value that safety and quality are foundational commitments, the second focus area of our strategy guides us to support global efforts to increase safe practices in and around vehicles. We know motor vehicle crashes are the number one cause of unintentional death among children ages 5–19. Further, six teens ages 16–19 die every day from motor vehicle injuries. Our focus is on parents, grandparents, young drivers and children.
Through education and training, we aim to reduce the number of vehicle-related injuries and deaths by increasing the number of drivers and passengers who use seat belts and restraints, decreasing the number of distracted drivers, raising awareness of road safety issues and improving the knowledge and skills of those behind the wheel.
Through the GM/Girls Who Code partnership, girls from underserved communities will gain increased access to computer science education, mentorship and projects that demonstrate the real-world impact of computing that significantly increases young girls’ interest in pursuing technology and engineering degrees.
Our third focus area encompasses our efforts to enhance the quality of life in our communities around the world. We believe that for people to successfully live, learn, work and play within their communities, they need access to transit, good jobs and safe, walkable places to live. These three ingredients—mobility, employability and livability—comprise what we call the social mobility ecosystem and guide our efforts to build sustainable communities. Through investments in long-term solutions GM will enable mobility that goes well beyond vehicles, creating upward economic mobility for many.
Though we strive to have a positive impact where we do business, the cyclical nature of the automotive industry can impact a community in the opposite manner. When business downsizing or plant closures are necessary, we work diligently with local governments and other entities to minimize economic and social disruption. In Australia, for example, where engineering operations were downsized and vehicle manufacturing were discontinued at the end of 2017, we contributed AUD15 million to a reskilling and training program to assist staff leaving Holden. We also established transition centers at each of Holden’s sites to offer a suite of support services, training and ongoing career guidance for departing employees.
Girls Who Code participants.