Ford and GM replace ‘chairman’ title with gender-neutral ‘chair’

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Bill Ford, Executive Chairman and Chairman of the Board for Ford Motor Company.

Geoff Robins | AFP | Getty Images

DETROIT – Ford Motor’s Bill Ford is no longer chairman of the automaker’s board of directors, but he’s still running the show.

The automaker’s board voted last week to amend Ford’s bylaws to “adopt gender-neutral language throughout, including the title ‘chair’ in place of ‘chairman,'” according to a recent regulatory filing.

Bill Ford’s new title is simply “chair.”

The changes which took effect immediately, are a pretty big step for the historically male-dominated auto industry. They come after large swaths of corporate American have promised employees and investors to be more inclusive and focus on diversity efforts following social unrest in the wake of the #MeToo movement and George Floyd’s murder last year.

“Our roles at Ford aren’t gender exclusive and these changes help limit ambiguity and contribute to the inclusive and equitable culture we’re creating,” Ford spokeswoman Marisa Bradley said in an emailed statement.

A spokesman for General Motors said Monday it also removed the “chairman” title from CEO Mary Barra in exchange for “chair” in May. He said GM did not change its bylaws but made the changes internally and to the company’s website.

Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors, leaves after a meeting with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S. June 16, 2021.

Carlos Barria | Reuters

“Mary Barra’s title adjustment from Chairman and CEO to Chair and CEO is just one of many changes at General Motors in our journey to be the most inclusive company in the world,” David Barnas, a company spokesman, said in an emailed statement.

Barra adopted the “chairman” title when she began leading the automaker’s board in January 2016. She is the first female CEO and chair of any major automaker.

JPMorgan Chase & Co. made headlines earlier this year by erasing its bylaws of gender designations as well.

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