For 130 years, GE has consistently been of the world’s leading manufacturing and technology companies driving innovation in a variety of sectors. The company started to dabble in more sustainable technologies long before sustainability was common business buzzword. Now GE is even more forthcoming with its corporate social responsibility initiatives and strategy with the launch of its GE Citizenship site.
According to GE, the goal of this new site is to boost stakeholder engagement and communication with various groups on issues related to human rights, community work, human rights and corporate governance.
Highlights of the new GE Citizenship site include:
Community development: With a three-pronged approach based on volunteerism, education and health, GE offers both its resources and employees to help solve a variety of problems from clean water to improved access to help. GE’s employees last year alone worked 1.3 million hours pro bono on 6200 projects around the world in 51 countries. Its education program includes mentorship programs and grants to boost innovative training programs, and it encourages its employees to donate money to a variety of education foundations across the world that in turn benefit students of all ages.
Conflict minerals: GE has pledged to rid its supply chain of conflict minerals sourced from countries including the Democratic Republic of Congo, where armed forces in the eastern region reap up to $225 million of revenues from the extraction of these minerals. The company joined companies including HP and Intel that have joined the Conflict Free Smelter Early Adopters Fund, a program that helps smaller smelters by paying for their ethical audits. In addition to working with other NGOs such as the Electronics Industry Citizenship Coalition and Global e-Sustainability Initiative, GE will both communicate its progress in eliminating such minerals from its sourcing while meeting new compliance guidelines that the SEC issued in August.
Corporate governance: With compliance a constant challenge for a company conducting business in scores of countries, GE has invested in an internal infrastructure to fight corruption and guarantee transparency throughout its operations. Over 1000 attorneys work in-house and 710 auditors review the company’s transactions in every geographic area worldwide–a huge commitment for a company even of GE’s size.
Sustainable systems: GE’s ecomagination program, launched seven years ago, has grown into a $21 billion portfolio. That success demonstrates how a company can not only be a more progressive steward of the environment, but also score additional value for its shareholders. Now the company’s stakeholders have access to a frank discussion of the company’s progress in four areas: water, energy and climate; transportation; socially and environmentally responsible lending; and accessible health care.
Easy to navigate, rich in information and clearly written, the GE Citizenship site is a compelling tool for socially responsible investors, customers, employees and CSR professionals. Stakeholders can also view the company’s progress in GE’s most recent Sustainable Growth report.
Leon Kaye, based in Fresno, California, is a sustainability consultant and the editor of GreenGoPost.com. He also contributes to Guardian Sustainable Business and covers sustainable architecture and design for Inhabitat. You can follow him on Twitter.