General Motors: Elon Musk’s Stance On Remote Work Is Harmful To Diverse Talent

Like it or not — remote work is here to stay.

As the Great Resignation continues, people have placed immense value on flexibility – as much as a 10% pay raise even. Women and people of color are also generally happier working from home and are likelier than their white male colleagues to want to continue teleworking, according to a Harris Poll survey of professional workers across the U.S. Furthermore, for Black women and others from marginalized communities who may have experienced discrimination or microaggressions during their careers, a return to office environments presents tangible mental and emotional concerns.

There’s one individual however, who is a​pparently frustrated with the amount of time that people are spent working remotely. Tesla CEO Elon Musk has set a new threshold for his staff and for how many hours per week everyone should be spending in the office.

In an email sent to the executive team last week with the subject line “Remote work is no longer acceptable,” Musk doesn’t rule out remote work entirely, but says anyone who wishes to do so still needs to be in the office a minimum of 40 hours per week.

Musk’s office mandate contrasts with some auto-industry rivals. General Motors, for example, has a “work appropriately” strategy that lets white-collar workers log in remotely, rather than coming in every day. Depending on the nature of their role, employees have the flexibility to work where they can have the greatest impact to achieve GM’s goals and for their individual success. In the 14 months since its launch, this philosophy has helped open up the talent pipeline measurably.  

For General Motors, creating a more equitable, diverse, and inclusive company is a priority and ensuring they are creating avenues for the electric vehicle workforce (wherever they may be) is critical. Which is why, according to the auto retailer, Elon’s recent stance on remote work is the antithesis of their  approach to its own workforce.

Tamberlin “Tammy” Golden, Executive Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) at General Motors and head of the company’s workforce strategy implementation, is helping develop GM’s workforce at the same rate as their EV products to ensure that no one is left behind. With a $7 billion investment in Michigan and a plan to build 1 million electric vehicles by 2025, GM is working at hyper speed to create an all-electric future. 

“GM launched “Work Appropriately” in 2021 outlining where the work permits, employees have the flexibility to work where they can have the greatest impact on achieving GM goals,” says Golden. Despite the Great Resignation, GM’s approach has fueled nearly a third of all GM’s new hires that were women and 42% were from a underrepresented minority and the quit rate across U.S. salaried talent was six times lower than the national average, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. A majority of the attrition from GM was driven by retirement.

“Flexible work is foundational for improving companies’ hiring and products in tandem,” continues Golden. “With “Work Appropriately,” GM is creating new ways of working and bringing new employees along – recruiting from all over the country, across nearly 4,000 companies and 300 universities. To create an all-electric future, GM must bring everyone in – and a remote-work ban creates more barriers than opportunities.”

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