Rainbow/PUSH hosts annual auto symposium

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Concerns about the current U.S. economic crisis and its impact on the automotive industry were a high priority at Rainbow/PUSH’s 9th Annual Automotive Symposium held in Detroit on Oct. 1-3. Automotive manufacturers and minority suppliers spent a mor

Concerns about the current U.S. economic crisis and its impact on the automotive industry were a high priority at Rainbow/PUSH’s 9th Annual Automotive Symposium held in Detroit on Oct. 1-3.

Automotive manufacturers and minority suppliers spent a morning discussing purchasing best practices and strategies to ensure inclusion of minority suppliers in the global auto industry.

General Motors has been part of the Rainbow/PUSH symposium since 2005. Its participation is part of a 40-year history of supporting minority supplier development through its supplier diversity program. Bo Andersson, GM’s purchasing chief, has made it his personal responsibility to work hand-in-hand with the Rev. Jesse Jackson to address critical issues relative to the minority supply base.

This year’s meeting was no different. Jackson took the opportunity to meet privately with Andersson, members of his supplier diversity team and a group of eight minority suppliers that were identified last year by Jackson as being at risk. Both men agreed at that time to work together to develop plans for each supplier to help them succeed.

A year later, Andersson announced to the symposium attendees that as a result of hard work by both GM and the suppliers, solutions had been achieved with each of the minority suppliers.

“While the solution was different for each company, we were able to work together to develop plans that will help them to succeed and grow with GM,” Andersson said. “The common theme was that the owners of each of the eight companies stepped up to the challenge of taking the necessary steps to be competitive, and they are all working hard on developing a succession plan.”

Identifying the next generation of leaders is a key factor to the success of any automotive supplier but particularly for minority companies that tend to be family-held, according to Andersson.

Jackson praised GM for its commitment to work with Rainbow/PUSH and help turn around this group of suppliers. He stated that GM was willing to “walk the walk and talk the talk.”

Despite the current economic uncertainty, Andersson found reasons to be hopeful for the future of the automotive industry.

“The U.S. auto sector is still a $500 billion industry,” Andersson said. “In order to succeed, a supplier needs to have a well-thought out business plan and a willingness to work collaboratively with GM. If they have taken those steps, they have a good chance of growing with GM.”

Real Times News Service

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