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

Bill Ford, executive chairman and chairman of the board of directors of Ford Motor Company.

Geoff Robins | AFP | Getty Images

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

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

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

The changes, which went into effect immediately, are a pretty big step for them historically male-dominated auto industry. They come after large swathes of American corporations pledged to their employees and investors to be more inclusive and to focus on diversity efforts following the social unrest in the wake of the #MeToo movement and the assassination of George Floyd last year.

“Our roles at Ford are not gender-specific, and these changes help limit ambiguity and contribute to the inclusive and equitable culture we create,” Ford spokeswoman Marisa Bradley said in a statement emailed.

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

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

Carlos Barria | Reuters

“Mary Barras title change from chairman and CEO to chairman and CEO is just one of many changes at General Motors as we move towards becoming the most inclusive company in the world,” said David Barnas, a company spokesman, in a statement emailed.

Barra assumed the title of “Chairwoman” when she headed the automaker’s board of directors in January 2016. She is the first female CEO and chairwoman of a major automaker.

JPMorgan Chase & Co. made headlines earlier this year by also removing gender designations from its articles of association.