Jonathan Weinberger, GM’s Chief Advocate of Global Transportation Technology, is proud to share the progress our company has made in accessibility and where we are headed next on our journey to zero barriers.
At General Motors, we’re on a mission to become the most inclusive company in the world, we must advance our corporate culture and increase the accessibility of our products so that we’re making EVs for everybody. These aren’t one-person jobs, and they aren’t one-and-done jobs, either. Promoting equity and inclusion for people with disabilities is woven throughout our organization – and through transparency and accountability, we hope we can inspire the same level of dedication for other companies and industries. Here are just a few ways we plan to keep working towards true inclusion: 
Advancing corporate culture
Driving a culture of disability inclusion: GM was the first automaker to sign on to the Disability Equality Index, the leading benchmarking tool to measure companies’ disability inclusion and equality standards. The Index considers criteria like cultural commitment to disability inclusion and equality; workplace accessibility; employment practices like benefits, recruitment and accommodations; and community engagement. GM achieved a score of 100 in the 2022 Disability Equality Index, though a perfect score doesn’t mean we can’t do more to further our efforts. In fact, a perfect score reinforces our responsibility to lead in the right direction. Candace Lockett, IT Project Manager at GM and member of the company’s disability employee resource group GM Able, says that a culture of disability inclusion helps employees feel a sense of belonging and makes them confident in pursuing both their career and life goals.
GM IT Project Manager Candace Lockett Headshot
“By being open about my own disability, I’ve been able to find resources and allies at GM that have significantly aided me in achieving success. That’s why it’s important that members from the disability community feel supported in their organization, since there may be many different types of necessary accommodations required, including addressing medical needs or providing specialized products and services.”
GM Able: GM provides intentional space for employees with disabilities — as well as caregivers and allies — to share with, listen to, learn from, uplift and empower one another. GM Able is an employee-led disability community that provides advocacy, opportunities, services and resources to its members. More than 1,100 members are active in GM Able, and the group is still growing. 
Increasing accessibility of our products
Better is built-in: Creating more accessible products isn’t positioned as the right way to do things; it’s positioned as the only way to do things. Our universal design process encourages designers to create products that are usable by everyone, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design. We include employees with disabilities at every stage of the product planning process, and often, employees with disabilities are at the helm.
Ralph Teetor Implementing Cruise Control in a Cadillac Back in the 1950s, GM collaborated with Ralph Teetor, a blind engineer, to integrate his invention into our Cadillacs. Now, cruise control is an industry standard, and this kind of partnership between engineers with disabilities and non-disabled engineers still happens at GM every day.
Technology transformed: GM is continuously developing next-generation vehicle technologies to address the unique needs of people with disabilities. GM’s Accessibility Center of Excellence (ACE), led by Carrie Morton, the automotive industry’s first Chief Engineer of Accessibility, is specifically tasked with researching and helping develop accessible product solutions for the disability community and works to advocate for their needs from the earliest stages of the product development process. Many vehicles in our portfolio already automatically come with clever cargo solutions and hands-free functionalities that make driving easier for people with disabilities. Even OnStar, GM’s in-vehicle safety and security system, is equipped with a toll-free text telephone help line for subscribers who are deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired. GM’s vehicles can meet a wide array of accessibility needs, and we have employees who specialize in finding people with disabilities their dream car, plus offering qualified customers the financial assistance to make that dream a reality.
Disability makes people different, not less valuable or less welcome — every process, product and company culture should reflect that. A culture of disability inclusion needs to be championed by everyone and as Locket notes, “allies will help bring acknowledgement to all kinds of disabilities — no matter whether they’re rare, common, mental health-related, physical, visible or non-visible – and celebrate the employees that make our workforce so diverse.”
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