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GE ENVIRONMENTAL, SOCIAL AND GOVERNANCE

Human Rights & Supply Chain

As a diversified, global company with growth in emerging markets, and as a provider of infrastructure around the world, GE regularly confronts complex human rights challenges.

Human Rights & Supply Chain

As a diversified, global company with growth in emerging markets, and as a provider of infrastructure around the world, GE regularly confronts complex human rights challenges.

GE Human Rights

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Human Rights

As a diversified, global company with growth in emerging markets, and as a provider of infrastructure around the world, GE regularly confronts complex human rights challenges. Our approach to those challenges starts with the Company’s Statement of Principles on Human Rights, which outlines our commitment to respecting human rights wherever we operate and to demanding the same commitment from our business partners. To embed this commitment within our business operations, we have developed human rights“implementing procedures” that help our businesses incorporate human rights considerations in all aspects of their operations.

With the adoption by the UN Human Rights Commission of the UN Guiding Principles on Human Rights and Business in 2012, there was for the first time a broad agreement on a human rights framework: the states’ duty to protect, businesses’ duty to respect, and the mutual duty to address human rights deprivations. Despite this agreed-upon framework, pressure continues for increased “hard law” in this space, from legislation mandating specific due-diligence measures and regulations requiring transparency and reporting to broad national action plans and even suggestions of a global treaty on human rights. We believe the Guiding Principles provide the fairest and most realistic framework for protecting human rights globally, but we recognize that for the Principles to succeed, business entities like GE need to “know and show” that they have robust programs for fulfilling their responsibility to respect human rights.

For more information on GE’s programs, and how GE handles specific human rights challenges around the world, please use the Topic drop-down menu to the left.

Modern Slavery

Modern slavery, and the associated trafficking of its victims, is currently one of the most challenging human rights abuses both in the U.S. and abroad. Forced labor occurs when individuals work involuntarily as a result of one or more coercive measures such as debt bondage, restriction of movement, threat of harm, fraudulent recruitment, and financial inability to return home. On any given day, it is estimated that over 20million individuals globally, the majority female, are victims of this epidemic.

There are numerous NGO, UN, and state responses to this problem, many of which call on companies to conduct appropriate due diligence in their supply chains to prevent the use of forced or child labor. One of the most recent regulatory directives—the U.K. Modern Slavery Act (MSA)—requires companies operating in the U.K. to publish a statement outlining their efforts to prevent forced labor in their operations and supply chains. GE published its first MSA statement in May 2017, providing a detailed description of our approach to this important challenge. Please see our full MSA statement here. Specifically, it describes GE’s strong policies prohibiting forced or child labor in its operations and those of its suppliers, its extensive supply chain audit program with enhanced training for auditors on signs of forced labor, and its collaborations with initiatives such as the Leadership Group for Responsible Recruitment, whose goal is to eliminate the “original sin” of forced labor—the charging of recruitment fees to workers that bind them to their jobs and gut their pay. Similarly, you can see our California Transparency in Supply Chain Act disclosure here

For more details on our ethical supply chain program and our partnerships and initiatives in this area, go to the Topics drop down section.

Conflict Minerals

Virtually all of GE’s products contain one or more of the minerals tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold (3TG). The mining and trade of these materials from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and surrounding countries have gained international attention in recent years for the role that they can play as “conflict minerals,” financing deadly armed groups in the region. Because of this potential for association with conflict and human rights abuses, GE strives to ensure that our supply chains are ethical and sustainable, and that we are fulfilling our commitment to respect human rights through responsible sourcing practices.

As part of these efforts, GE has instituted a statement of principles on conflict minerals, and we have submitted a report to the Securities and Exchange Commission on our due diligence program. We support industry-wide due diligence mechanisms that enable conflict-free sourcing in general, such as the Responsible Minerals Initiative, and responsible sourcing of minerals from the DRC in particular.

We recognize that conflict is just one of the risks related to mineral sourcing in the DRC, and that critical issues such as poverty, environmental degradation, child labor and gender inequality must be addressed as well. Done ethically, production of 3TG in the DRC presents a unique opportunity to contribute to peace and stabilization as well as to local economic development and poverty alleviation. Faced with this reality, we support local development in the DRC mining communities through engagement and philanthropy, including GE Foundation sponsorship of an influential study released in 2014 by the NGO Pact entitled “Breaking the Chain: Child Mining in the Democratic Republic of Congo.”

GE’s 2017 Conflict Minerals Report can be found here.

 

Myanmar

GE re-entered Myanmar in 2013 and opened an office in Yangon in 2014. We have been principally engaged in product sales and leasing in healthcare, electricity and aviation. In addition to our commitment to improving Myanmar’s infrastructure, improving healthcare and easing the country’s crippling energy shortage, GE has engaged in significant philanthropic and capacity-building activities. The GE Foundation has undertaken an initiative in conjunction with Myanmar’s Ministry of Health and Jhpiego, an affiliate of Johns Hopkins University, to supply training, technology and equipment to help reduce maternal and infant mortality rates. As of September 30, 2015, GE had delivered more than $500,000 in equipment and the GE Foundation had funded more than $2.5 million in healthcare training.

GE also developed, at the government’s request, a comprehensive electricity plan to evaluate how to best address the country’s needs, as well as a series of energy technical-training programs. Finally, we launched a series of leadership training programs for Myanmar government officials, both in the U.S. and in Singapore. As of March 2016, nearly 100 officials had completed the training.

GE recently has been awarded contracts for energy upgrades and installations that will help ease the crippling energy shortage suffered by the citizens of Myanmar. We have also leased aircraft to Myanmar Airlines and sold healthcare equipment to hospitals and clinics around the country.

While GE Oil & Gas has had very limited involvement in Myanmar to date, the GE Foundation commissioned a human rights impact assessment to guide the Company’s future interaction with Myanmar’s extractive sector. The assessment, which was prepared by the Institute on Human Rights and Business, applies the UN Guiding Principles to facilitate sustainable engagement with business partners and civil society in Myanmar. The report was issued in July 2014, and we have made it public to highlight for all in the oil and gas sector the human rights issues that attend extractive industry operations in Myanmar. It is available at Myanmar Oil & Gas Sector Wide Impact Assessment.

Women in the Middle East

It’s no secret the Middle East is a challenging place for working women. The Arab world is home to eight of 10 countries with the lowest percentage of female workers across the globe, and only 3.5% of Arab women have their own businesses—about one-fourth the rate internationally.

GE is working to change that. We believe women in the Middle East are a highly educated, energized and untapped talent source, especially in countries like Saudi Arabia, where they make up more than half (55%) of the nation’s university graduates, yet comprise just 16% of the Saudi workforce.

GE is dedicated to promoting diversity in the workplace, and 30% of GE’s leadership team in the Middle East, North Africa and Turkey are women. Here’s what else we’re doing to promote female leadership:

  • In 2013, GE (with Tata Consultancy Services and Saudi Aramco) launched Saudi Arabia’s first all-female business processing center. Established in Riyadh, the country’s capital and financial hub, this pioneering center opened with 300 female hires. By 2016, that number had expanded to 1,000 — and is growing. The Center supports GE Global Operations in delivering over 20 vital business operations, including Finance and Accounting, Human Resource Outsourcing, Supply Chain Management, Information Technology and Enterprise Data Management, in more than 50 GE locations world-wide.

  • In January 2016, GE and Masdar opened the “Women in Innovation” leadership-training program at the GE Ecomagination Innovation Center in Masdar City. The training will focus on nurturing the skills that will help UAE women pursue careers and entrepreneurial opportunities in the renewable energy sector, which may create 24.4 million jobs by 2030.

  • GE promotes diversity in the Middle East and globally through the Women’s Network; 70,000 member group dedicated to enhancing women’s professional growth industry-wide. Engagement initiatives include STEM day camps for junior high school girls and scholarships for female undergraduate students in fields like engineering, tech and finance.

  • In accordance with GE’s code of ethics, The Spirit & The Letter requirements, we will work tirelessly to create more opportunities for women all over the world. Learn more about our Diversity efforts here.

Supplier Diversity

The GE Supplier Diversity Program was launched in 1974 to ensure that we focus on doing what is right for our communities and our Company. We engage our pool of suppliers for best practices and high-quality goods and services, while enhancing economic opportunity. We believe that excellence in supplier diversity can result in excellence in supply chain management and lead to growth for all. We continually strive to grow our diverse supplier base, and annually, we recognize those in the Company who successfully support our Supplier Diversity Program.

Core components of the GE Supplier Diversity Program are as follows:

  • The Extra Step Award Program, which recognizes and rewards GE employees in the United States for finding, developing and doing business with small, competitive women-, veteran-, LGBT- and minority-owned U.S. suppliers. We present the Extra Step Award to US based employees throughout all of the GE businesses, with senior executives participating in the ceremony. The award includes a trophy, and recognition across the Company, and has been given to more than 600 employees since 1976 for their efforts in finding, developing and doing business with diverse suppliers.
  • Individual businesses also participate in regional and local supplier diversity activities to support their specific business needs.

Sourcing Contacts for Diverse Suppliers

Before submitting your company information, we encourage diverse suppliers to review the GE Business sections of www.ge.com so you can further enhance your understanding of GE and identify which GE businesses are suitable for your company’s products and/or services.

Diverse suppliers can submit company information as follows:

  1. Ensure your company is certified as a diverse supplier. For instructions on how to do this, visit the National Minority Supplier Development Council website or Women’s Business Enterprise National Council website.
  2. Once you have identified a GE business as a potential customer, you should go to that business’ website, follow the instructions on the site to register your company and make sure that, at a minimum, the following information is provided: Company name and description, brief explanation of why your company would be a good fit, supplier diversity certification and your contact information.

Partnership & Initiatives

Collaborating with expert stakeholders locally and globally is integral to our human rights program. For instance, the GE Foundation has funded work by the Institute for Human Rights and Business on the global problem of human trafficking—specifically, funding the IHRB’s Responsible Recruitment initiative—and the UN Global Compact’s Human Rights and Business Dilemmas Forum.

GE is a founding member of the Global Business Initiative on Human Rights, whose mission is to advance human rights in a business context through cross-industry peer learning, outreach and capacity building, and informing policy. GE is also a member of the Leadership Group for Responsible Recruitment, a collaboration between leading companies and expert organizations to drive positive change in the way that migrant workers are recruited, with a focus on eliminating fees being charged to workers to secure employment. The three-fold aim of this initiative is to: (1) create demand for responsible recruitment by raising awareness about the positive benefits of ethical practices and developing tools to help companies implement the Employer Pays Principle; (2) increase the supply of ethically sourced labor by creating an enabling environment and supporting the development and implementation of systems to identify and use ethical recruitment agencies; and (3) advocate for improved protection for migrant workers by brokering dialogue to promote the effective regulation and enforcement of the recruitment industry.

In 2017, GE collaborated with Good World Solutions, now part of Elevate, to participate in a smartphone-enabled worker voice pilot in India sponsored in part by Humanity United. The purpose of the pilot was to survey residents in towns where GE suppliers recruit workers to gauge whether they were experiencing any forced labor conditions in their recruitment or employment. GE is looking at this and other ways to enhance worker voice in our supply chain to provide the Company with another way beyond audits to identify and correct worker welfare issues.

UN Global Compact

 

The United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) is both a policy platform and a practical framework for companies that are committed to sustainability and responsible business practices.

As a multi-stakeholder leadership initiative, it seeks to align business operations and strategies with 10 principles in the areas of human rights, labor, environment, and anti-corruption, and to catalyze actions in support of broader UN goals.

GE became a signatory to the UNGC in 2008.  Business signatories to the UNGC are required to annually submit a Communication On Progress (COP) for the UNGC website and to share the COP widely with their stakeholders.  GE’s COP can be viewed here. Also, referenced below are links to relevant portions of GE’s Sustainability website that support the corresponding UNGC principles.

HUMAN RIGHTS

Principle 1
Businesses should support and respect the protection of internationally proclaimed human rights.

Principle 2
Businesses should make sure that they are not complicit in human rights abuses.

 

LABOUR

Principle 3
Businesses should uphold the freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining.

Principle 4
Businesses should support the elimination of all forms of forced and compulsory labour.

Principle 5
Businesses should support the effective abolition of child labour.

Principle 6
Businesses should support the elimination of discrimination in respect of employment and occupation.

 

ENVIRONMENT

Principle 7
Businesses should support a precautionary approach to environmental challenges.

Principle 8
Businesses should undertake initiatives to promote greater environmental responsibility.

Principle 9
Businesses should encourage the development and diffusion of environmentally friendly technologies.

 

ANTI-CORRUPTION

Principle 10
Businesses should work against corruption in all its forms, including extortion and bribery.

For more information about the UNGC strategic policy initiative, visit the UN Global Compact website:
www.unglobalcompact.org

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Ethical Supply Chain Program

Suppliers are critical partners in GE’s value chain. As GE’s businesses have globalized, so has our supply chain, including in locations where environment, health, safety, labor, human rights and other practices can be problematic.  We expect our suppliers to obey the laws that require fair treatment of workers, a safe and healthy work environment, and environmental protection.

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Supplier Initiatives

We believe that working with suppliers will enable us to identify projects that will have both operational and environmental benefits while building stronger relationships and reducing our supply chain costs.

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Distinctions & Awards

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Award for Corporate Excellence for Inclusive Hiring in Saudi Arabia

United States Secretary of State, 2016

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Best Places to Work for LGBT Equality

Human Rights Campaign 2018

GE Crotonville training center

Leadership Group for Responsible Recruitment

Member, 2017