Following protests, General Motors CEO Mary Barra did not attend an awards ceremony last week where she was to receive an honor.
In a statement, GM said it was cancelling Barra’s appearance at the de Pizan honors to be held at the National Women’s History Museum, where she was to receive the Katherine Graham Living Legacy Award.
“The decision was made to ensure that attendees can focus on recognizing the achievements of American women — past and present,” GM said in a statement.
Earlier in the day, the museum in the nation’s capital said it was going forward with its decision to give the award to Barra despite protests by a group of people who say their relatives or friends were killed in GM cars.
In a letter to six congressional co-chairs of the event, including U.S. Rep. Candice Miller, R-Harrison Township, the group said it took “serious issue” with an award honoring Barra in the wake of “unprecedented recalls” and what the group called her “lack of transparency and accountability in the crisis.”
A recall early this year for defective ignition switches is now linked to at least 32 deaths. Barra has appeared before Congress several times this year for hearings on the issue.
“It has not even been a year since Mrs. Barra began serving as CEO. An award like this would best be held for a time when she has demonstrated to consumers, shareholders, employees and public officials that she, and the company she leads, has earned it,” the group said in its letter.
It was one of at least two calls for the National Women’s History Museum to withhold the award, but earlier the organization said it would move forward with the honor.
“As the first female CEO of a leading automaker, Mary Barra has shattered the notion that the highest ranks of a traditionally male-dominated industry are reserved for men,” the museum said in a statement.
GM did not immediately say whether Barra would still receive the award, despite not attending. The award is named after the late publisher of the Washington Post.