General Motors’ VP Eric Peterson says automakers need to be more inclusive


It was revealed during the 14th Annual Global Automotive Summit in Detroit that the African American demographic has been inordinately loyal to the domestic auto manufacturing base for decades in comparison to other cultural subsets. Unfortunately, domestic automakers have not, collectively speaking, practiced uninhibited reciprocity in terms of returned investments, marketing and advertising back into the black community.

Taking place at the MGM Grand Casino and Hotel, the Rev. Jesse Jackson-Rainbow PUSH-led conference sought to come up with viable and concrete ways for investments and advertising to be doled out in commensurate with the amount of patronage that blacks have demonstrated to the Big Three automakers.

Eric Peterson, the vice president of diversity dealer relations at General Motors, the world’s largest auto manufacturer, said automakers in general can and will do better with becoming more inclusive with the African American community.

“As I observed the marketing and advertising panel, I thought it was excellent. It brought great information to the table,” he said. “Unfortunately, it’s not information that we’ve not heard before. But it’s up to each of us as manufacturers to decide to use that information.”

Peterson hastened to add that the specter of increased advertising and investments into communities is not a matter of black and white, though some attendees would disagree.

“My perspective is that this is not a white, black, brown, yellow issue. It’s a green issue. It’s one that we have to decide as a business imperative how we are going to reach the growing segments within the market place. And I believe that with the poll numbers that were share during the discussions with the manufacturers — I believe they understand that — but what is the incentive to move forward. I think that each of us has to decide: are we committed? And if we’re committed, then gotta put our dollars where our mouths and appropriately represent to reach out to get our fair share.”

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