Podcast: Ken Barrett of GM Talks about Men as Diversity Partners

Ken Barrett, the Global Chief Diversity Officer at General Motors, talks about men as diversity partners for women in engineering and technology.
Men As Diversity Partners Podcast with Gene Fraser of Northrop Grumman
Ken Barrett of GM during a panel discussion on Men as Diversity Partners at WE16 in Philadelphia.

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Hi, I’m Jessica Rannow, FY17 President of the Society of Women Engineers and this is SWE’s Diverse podcast series. Please remember to add this podcast to your iTunes and like or follow us on social media. Visit swe.org for more details.

Joining me now is Ken Barrett. He is the Global Chief Diversity Officer at General Motors. He’s the first one to hold that position and has been with the company for four years. Prior to that he spent 28 years in the Navy. He was head of diversity for the Navy and the Department of Defense.


While in the Navy, you achieved historic levels of female officers and began work-life balance initiatives. You helped to make sure women can serve on nuclear-powered submarines and you started the career intermission program. Tell us about that.

GM builds vehicles in 30 countries. GM brands include Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick, GMC and OnStar. GM has the automotive industry’s first woman CEO Mary Barra (Bar-ah). Tell us about some of GM’s programs for diversity such as your employee resource group and Global Women’s Council that involves 22 countries around the world.

What does GM do to combat unconscious or implicit bias against women in engineering?

GM is one of the founding members of SWE’s STEM Re-entry program for technical women who took a break in their careers and want to return to work. What have you experienced with that program at GM?

What can men do to be better diversity partners for women engineers?

What can women engineers do to make their companies more diverse?

In changing the culture of organizations to be more diverse, what has been your biggest challenge?