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GM still working to overhaul internal culture

Chief executive Mary Barra claims \"you can\'t fake culture,\" and she is still working to \"create the right environment.\"

More than a year after the General Motors ignition-switch fiasco emerged into the limelight, the company is still working to overhaul the internal culture that has been blamed for the safety lapse.

Speaking at Forbes Media's "Reinventing America" summit, chief executive Mary Barra argued that "you can't fake culture" and hundreds of top managers and executives are pushing to "create the right environment" that will reestablish a more effective way of doing business.

"You've got to have an environment where people feel engaged, where they're working on things that are important and they have an opportunity to have career development," she said, as quoted by The Detroit News.

The company implemented a "Speak Up for Safety" campaign a year ago, inviting employees to voice their safety concerns and receive recognition. The program, which aimed to reduce the "perceived and real barriers" to communication between managers and employees, is said to have been used by at least 3,000 employees so far.

Some executives had blamed lower-level employees for failing to communicate safety issues with higher-level managers. Details of the ignition-switch debacle contradict the claim, however, as engineers apparently designed a safer switch in 2001 but the defective component was preferred by upper-level decision makers due to cost considerations.

Barra points out that approximately 30 percent of GM's employees are new since 2009, and every single one of the 220,000-strong global workforce will be asked to submit a feedback survey. The poll will include questions about relationships with supervisors, among other topics.

Critics suggest that GM will face a difficult time attempting to change corporate culture without purging the ranks. The company has recalled millions of vehicles and payed compensation claims for at least 97 deaths blamed on the defective ignition switches, however only 15 employees were ousted due to their roles in the fiasco.

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