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General Motors’ diversity chief is nixing degree requirements for some roles

October 3, 2022, 11:24 AM UTC
General Motors workers in plant
General Motors’ head of diversity is removing unnecessary degree requirements for some engineering roles.
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Good morning!

Telva McGruder, General Motors’ chief diversity, equity, and inclusion officer, doesn’t particularly care if job candidates have a degree. Her primary concern is whether applicants have the skills required for a role. 

“An engineering degree is ‘wow’ and very well-respected. I have one myself. But it’s not necessarily the be-all, end-all indicator of someone’s potential,” she told my colleague Phil Wahba in an interview last week

McGruder assumed the role of DEI chief in 2020 after spending two decades on the engineering side of GM’s business. She’s since focused on increasing the number of underrepresented employees at the automaker by expanding the perception of what makes for a qualified candidate. Though she acknowledges that higher education credentials are essential for some roles at the company, she believes that narrowly defining what qualified talent looks like inadvertently hinders a company’s diversity efforts.

Stringent degree requirements are known to leave historically marginalized groups in the dark. The gap between white and Black Americans with university degrees notably increased from 18 to 20 percentage points between 2008 to 2018, writes Wahba. McGruder says recognizing such inequities and encouraging leaders to reframe what’s really necessary to successfully perform a job will be essential moving forward.

“There’s not one person at General Motors doing exactly what we hired them to do when they came in,” she says. “When you look at Black and Hispanic people in the U.S., more than 80% don’t have college degrees. But that doesn’t mean that they’re not capable. This frame of thinking opens the door to diversity.”

Read the full interview here

Amber Burton
amber.burton@fortune.com
@amberbburton

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