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Ombudsperson Process

Empowering Employees to Be Successful

Ombuds Network

GE has an extensive ombudsperson process that serves as a mechanism for individuals to ask questions and report integrity concerns without fear of retaliation. With a global network of approximately 700 ombudspersons, coverage is provided for every business and country in which GE operates. Employees come to know their local business ombudsperson through postings, articles and various Company intranet sites, and by ombudsperson introductions at all-employee meetings within the businesses, including integrity events and trainings.

As GE employment and business activity has changed, increased rigor around the ombudsperson appointment process has been added. All ombudspersons speak the local language and understand the culture and business environment of their locations. The ombudsperson network is continually assessed and measured to ensure it is operating with peak efficiency while providing the most comprehensive global coverage. GE ombudspersons are trained in procedures for receiving concerns, initiating investigations, monitoring case progress and closure. Training for ombudspersons is digitized to allow for self-directed course instruction. In 2012, a total of 196 ombudspersons were trained. Existing ombudspersons may also access the digitized training when a refresher is needed.

A Strong Culture of Integrity

Prompt corrective action and discipline demonstrate a strong integrity culture at GE. During 2012, 2,752 integrity concerns were reported through the ombudsperson process (38% anonymously) covering a variety of issues. Again this year, as part of GE’s Open Reporting initiative, managers continued to adopt the  new “manager reporting form” to record compliance concerns raised directly to them.. The form was introduced mid-year 2011 and has resulted in a 54% increase in the reporting of integrity concerns since its introduction (+25% in 2012 over 2011). Robust usage of the ombudsperson process demonstrates that GE leaders have set the right integrity culture, creating an environment that encourages employees to come forward with their questions and concerns without fear of retribution.

The 2,752 investigations in 2012 led directly to 786 disciplinary actions being taken. These included 222 employee separations (2x 2011), 507warnings, 21 job changes, and 36 financially impacted employees. Disciplinary actions are up 52% over last year. Of the disciplinary actions, approximately 44% occurred outside the United States. Ombudspersons monitor investigations to ensure timely closure and prompt feedback to those who raise concerns. As of April 15, 2013, 99% of 2012 investigations have been closed, averaging approximately 49 days to complete (down 9 days over 2011).

Confirmed violations of Company policies and procedures result in corrective actions such as training, strengthening routines, and simplifying or updating processes. Although many policy non-conformances result from unintended mistakes, disciplinary actions are taken in appropriate cases involving intentional wrongdoing.

Integrity and Privacy

How we achieve results in our business is as important as the results themselves. GE seeks to lead in workplace and marketplace integrity by respecting the human rights of everyone touched by our business—employees, suppliers, customers, partners—and by enforcing legal and financial compliance.

These commitments are detailed in our integrity policy, The Spirit & The Letter, which every employee supports with a signed pledge. In 2013, a new version of The Spirit & The Letter will be made available to employees, including a simplified code of conduct, ethical decision making guidance, and plain language “rules to remember.”   We have also updated online integrity training for new employees to make it simpler, shorter, more global and more interactive.  We have redesigned these resources with a goal to make our compliance communications and training more modern and effective, thereby helping employees understand why integrity matters and how to “do the right thing” in their jobs. Employees are further enabled by our ombudsperson process, which encourages them to report integrity concerns without fear of reprisal.

GE is fervent about protecting information about our employees, our customers, our suppliers and our Company in an appropriate manner. Similarly, equipment and technology resources belonging to the Company and provided by GE to its workers, or in some cases, to individuals contracted to do work for GE, to process and store information, must also be used and protected appropriately. As such, GE implemented the Privacy and the Protection of GE Information and the Security & Crisis Management policies.

GE takes pride in our history of governance and our culture of integrity. No matter where we operate, every GE employee is responsible for knowing and complying with our integrity and privacy guidelines. 

Ombudsperson Concerns by Area (reports per policy)

Fair Employment Practices425345366414576674
Conflicts of Interest209209235206220260
International Trade Controls91142147138125170
Security & Crisis Management91114111123208220
Regulatory Excellence589098127110135
Business Records (T & L, Time & Attend)811339891124174
Environment, Health & Safety1019787127164175
Routines, Documentation Internal Measurements106928389111179
Supplier Relationships72867494121137
Improper Payments495264357470
Controllership (Accounting, Fin. Reporting, Billing)4757534571111
Intellectual Property4527464880108
Working with Governments302838221430
Complying with Competition Laws292222212329
Violation of Law--------720
Other Integrity Concerns7037182564105


Ombudsperson Process - Investigation Results

Concerns Reported1,5961,6721,6411,7062,2032,752
Disciplinary Actions343420420363516786


Geographic Breakout of Investigations Conducted (percent of investigations)

U.S. and Canada56%55%57%57%55%52%
Latin America13%13%11%9%8%8%


2012 Results

  • Closed as of April 15, 2013: 99%
  • Average Days to Close: ~45