General Electric Company

Imagination at work

Wednesday 10 October 2012, by glouie, Janet(Chen Qian), Kelly.Deng (1121209245)

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A. The main facts about the activities of the company.

General Electric Company (GE) established in 1878 by the great American inventor Thomas Alva Edison, and has spent the last century building a diverse portfolio of leading businesses which include: Energy, Health and home, Transportation, Finance and Customer training. In addition, GE has one of the best reputations of any company in the world. In 2012, GE was ranked the 12th most admired company in Fortune 500.

In 2011, GE ranked among the Fortune 500 as the 6th largest firm in the U.S. by gross revenue, as well as the 14th most profitable. However, the company is currently listed the 3rd largest in the world among the Forbes Global 2000, further metrics being taken into account. Other rankings for 2011/2012 include:

— No. 7 company for leaders (Fortune)
— No. 5 best global brand (Interbrand)
— No. 63 green company (Newsweek)
— No. 15 most admired company (Fortune)
— No. 19 most innovative company (Fast Company)

B. The Ethical challenges this company is addressing.

As we all know that nothing is perfect in this world ever and never, the General Electronic is no exception. The company has been criticized for unethical behaviors in several aspects.

Environment pollution
Actually, GE has involved in several serious environment pollution affairs. GE is “listed fourth-largest corporate producer of air pollution in the United States ” and “with more than 4.4 million pounds per year (2,000 tons) of toxic chemicals released into the air”. GE was also charged for damp toxic waste into the Housatonic River and paid for $250 million dollars for their behavior.

Production quality
As we all know that GE is the provider of the six reactors in the 2011 Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant catastrophe, although it is not certify whether the reactors design flaw is the main cause of this terrible catastrophe, GE was criticized by the devices design flaws for many years since 1972. If it is true, GE will definitely face a totally ruined public image and credibility.

Tax Avoidance and increasing the unemployment
GE was reported did not pay taxes in 2010 with $14.2 billion in worldwide profits and more than $5 billion from U.S. If that is true, GE will benefit about $3.2 billion by unethical behaviors. Meanwhile, GE was also blamed for the workforce reduction by one fifth since 2002 until now, which obviously increased the unemployment all over the U.S.

Moreover, some non-partisan organization Public Campaign pointed out that GE spent $84.35 million on lobbying and not paying any taxes during 2008–2010. And the company was criticized for increasing executive pay by 27% to $75.9 million in 2010 for the top 5 executives. Those bribe scandal leads to unjustified competition in the industry.

C. What makes you believe this company is really ethical and why you trust it?

We are inspired by GE because of its unrelenting devotion to innovation and reform. Beginning with Thomas Edison‘s first practical light bulb (which has become the symbol for an idea), GE has spent the last 130 years introducing commercially viable products that have greatly advanced human civilization and benefitted society. GE has given us everything from jet engines to toasters. And in doing so, has made life much more enjoyable for us. But it’s not just what GE has achieved that we admire, but also how it achieved it. GE empowers its employees by providing training programs and equal opportunity. GE invests over $1 billion on learning and development each year to help its employees qualify for higher positions. In addition, women and minorities make up almost half of GE’s officer and senior executive positions. This is the kind of environment that we would like to create for our companies or work for. We believe that a knowledgeable and diverse workforce is the key to creating an innovative and successful long-term company.

But for every bright light bulb that GE has produced, comes a shadow. GE has made many mistakes in its lifetime. And some were very unethical and detrimental to society. However, GE has shown a strong capacity to reform. This is what inspires us most about GE. What matters to us is that GE learns and grows from its mistakes. Every person on this earth has made a mistake one time or another in his/her life. What’s important to us is not just the mistake itself, but also how that person learned from his/her mistake in order to improve as a human being. We believe that this is true for companies as well. We really admire how GE confronts its problems and takes initiative in correcting its past mistakes.

We trust GE because its actions speak for themselves. By using its biggest strength (innovation), GE has been able to turn their problems into profitable and ethical opportunities. To tackle its problem with pollution, GE devised a brilliant plan to leverage cooperation and partnerships. This plan is known as Ecomagination. The goal of Ecomagination is to find innovative solutions to today’s environmental challenges while driving economic growth. GE plans to $10 billion in research and development over the next 10 years. So far, GE has leveraged the Ecomagination to improve its own operating efficiency. Compared to 2004, GE’s greenhouse gas emissions have decreased 19%. Through the Ecomagination efforts, GE has developed a multi-fuel power plant that can shift between natural gas and renewable energy. This will help to decrease the world’s overall CO2 emissions and dependence on oil. We admit that we will never truly know what GE’s real intentions are. GE is still as capable of making another mistake as any other company. However, we chose to trust the company based on results and we hope that GE continues to find innovative and safe solutions to the world’s problems.

D.The possible challenges facing the company in the future and how you think this company may improve.

Given all these unethical activities, GE is likely to face serious challenges:

— Public image damage
As we mentioned in the second part, GE is now facing several unethical challenges such as, nuclear pollution, animal testing with toxic chemicals and manipulative lobbying. If some of the behaviors are verified or if the company neglects to deal with those problems effectively, the company will damage its public image and reputation significantly.

— Long-term profit loss
Moreover, if GE keeps engaging in unethical behavior without showing any attempts at improvement, the company will risk lawsuits and will be charged for large amounts of money as punishment, which will definitely reduce the company’s profits. Besides, if the company loses the public image and reputation, the company will lose a large number of customers and cooperative partners, which will also affect the company’s earnings in the long run.

— Irreversible damages
Finally, loss the public reputation and loss profits in a long run are not the most serious consequences. The company provides the production of nuclear power reactors, if the design flaws are confirmed and cause another unclear catastrophe without any improvement in the world, contamination in the water and soil will be caused. And that will be the most serious consequences of all for our world and the next generations.

So what improvement we can expect from GE?

— Focus on the goals. Be careful to make strategy about choosing products, not only just base on the profit rate, but also consider the society responsibility.
— Take all aspects into consideration. Before decision-making, make sure all possible consequences are seriously considered. Fully respect natural creatures’ rights, including both human beings and animals.
— Continue to use innovation to turn problems into business opportunities.


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1 Discussion / 1 Message

  • General Electric Company 6 March 2013 at 23:19 , by David Gallardo Tasias

    General Electric as everybody know, it’s a big company which has been performing its activity a lot of years with success. It is a company that has called my attention with their constant innovation and their intention to form workers and develop their worker’s skills. But I didn’t know about the pollution generated by them. I think that it is a very important aspect to take into account because it is damaging their image. Nowadays, the environment is taking a very important place into people’s mind. Everybody know words like pollution, CO2, climatic change... So this problem would be solved. If General Electric wants to keep their historical reputation, should start working on it. But General Electric don’t waste time and I think that the Ecomagination project is a good way to clean their image. General Electric must continue being who they are.


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