General Motors announced that Admiral Michael Mullen (retired) will join the company’s board of directors starting Feb. 1. Mullen previously served as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 2007 to 2011, during which he was principal military adviser to Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush. Last fall, Mullen was a visiting professor at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University.
Mullen discussed with DiversityInc CEO Luke Visconti his views on leadership, accountability and the need to improve diversity in the military so all people have the opportunity to excel. His passionate testimonies for civil rights and inclusion for gay and lesbian service members helped persuade Obama to lift the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.
“Diversity has wonderful characteristics across a large number of fields, areas, people, whatever the case might be. I didn’t want there to be any confusion about what I was going to focus on as the Chief Naval Officer,” Mullen told Visconti. “From a leadership standpoint, I thought where the Navy needed to go—and I was intending to take them there—was to focus heavily on African-Americans and women. I wanted to send a very clear signal about what we were going to focus on.”
Visconti himself is a veteran—he served as a Naval aviator and commissioned officer with the U.S. Navy from 1982 to 1990. Visconti now sits on the Chief of Naval Operations Executive Committee and has co-chaired three subcommittees regarding diversity and women’s issues.
Additionally, Captain Kenneth Barrett, General Motors’ Chief Diversity Officer, is also a retiree of the Navy. Barrett previously served as the U.S. Navy’s Diversity Director and presented at DiversityInc’s event on how to drive diversity and hold leaders accountable for results.
“We’re fortunate to have Admiral Mullen join General Motors’ board of directors. He brings proven leadership and deep experience in change management, strategic planning, technical innovation and risk management gained over the course of his 43 years serving our country,” says Dan Akerson, General Motors Chairman and CEO.