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Bob Beatty

DE&I Leadership Series: The Bob Beatty Experience

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion is not simply an HR initiative at GM Financial. In this DE&I series, we connect with leadership throughout the organization to highlight lessons learned and how these strategies affect our employees, customers, dealers and communities.

As explained in the 2021 Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I) Annual Report, “By endeavoring to be a company with a workforce that reflects the diversity of our customers, we will be better able to understand and serve their needs.”

As an industry leader in auto finance, empowering team members and embracing a diverse culture help cultivate trust and respect from consumers around the globe.

“DE&I is a business and moral imperative,” says Bob Beatty, GM Financial’s North America EVP and Chief Experience Officer. “Business-wise, it just makes sense to ensure that the company has a robust DE&I program. Our customers, dealers and employees are all extremely diverse, with a healthy desire to not only be treated equitably but to enjoy equitable programs and services and a desire to be a part of something bigger than themselves: to really be included.”

More equitable finance education

One of the ways we’re making a difference in consumers’ lives is through our dedication to more equitable financial wellness guidance that empowers everyone.

KEYS® Online and KEYS® Live offer education on building credit, better debt management and much more, helping close gender gaps in financial knowledge and reach those living in under-resourced communities, according to Susan Sheffield, Chief Financial Officer, GM Financial.

In early 2021, GM Financial partnered with the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation to provide a KEYS Financial Empowerment presentation. At the time, William Turner, Director, Congressional Black Caucus Leadership Institute, commented that “this type of financial education is a key part of enhancing economic equity for Black communities.”

New inclusive customer experiences

We’re also striving to ensure more equitable customer interaction experiences. There was a time when the best way to communicate with us was by calling. Those customers with anxiety or hearing challenges may have felt underserved.

Thanks to improved technology and an inclusive mindset, customers can now connect with customer advocates or a virtual assistant named Nanci via MyAccount instant messaging, text messaging, Apple Business Chat, email and phone, which includes TDD/TTY services for the hard of hearing.

“The variety of ways that we offer our customers to interact with us certainly reflects the variety of consumers that we have,” Bob agrees. “But the best thing we can do for our customers is to hire and promote the best people without letting conscious or unconscious bias interfere with our decisions.”

Fostering DE&I for a better business

Nurturing a diverse and inclusive culture is a business imperative, not a new trend. By having a variety of people with mixed backgrounds, experiences and opinions, it’s easier to serve a wider range of consumers.

“Any progress we make internally in the DE&I arena yields benefits to our customers and business partners,” explains Bob. “Training and coaching empathy not only allow us to better service our customers by relating to their situation, but it also lays the foundation to identifying and removing inequity. It helps us better create spaces where all of our customers can thrive.”

Our focus on DE&I ideals is essential to providing exceptional customer experiences. Satisfied customer advocates who appreciate the importance of inclusivity can better serve every person who calls or messages them. Respect, empathy and valuing the customer perspective are skills that drive the customer experience.

“We cannot meet our constituent’s needs without embracing the complexity of the groups we depend on for our livelihoods,” points out Bob. “Just consider what suffering through inequity feels like or having to hide aspects of yourself because you don’t fit in. If you can imagine that and if you can accept the truth that these injustices exist, even in a company as great as GM Financial, then you understand the moral demand for change.”

A journey, not the destination

Practicing DE&I doesn’t mean attending one course and moving on. To be successful, it needs to be at the center of who we are as a company. While diversity, equity and inclusion have been vital to the company since the beginning, that doesn’t mean anyone is patting themselves on the back for a job well done.

“One of the most difficult things is getting universal understanding and agreement that DE&I initiatives aren’t something extra. They need to be part of our core,” says Bob. “Addressing bad things, like a lack of diversity, inequities and the absence of inclusion, are focuses everyone of goodwill can get behind in fixing.

“Too many believe that by focusing on DE&I we can make a great GM Financial even greater. In reality, without a focus on DE&I, we wouldn’t even be good, let alone great.”

To learn more about what’s being done and what changes are still to come on our DE&I journey, you can visit our DE&I page or download the GM Financial 2021 DE&I Annual Report (English | Spanish).

Josh Foster
By Josh Foster, GM Financial

Josh Foster takes pride in his three orange cats and the ability to connect people with meaningful experiences. He’s a U.S. Army veteran and volunteers at the Detroit Zoo, where he’s able to educate guests with bad jokes about good animals.

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