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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

GE’s sustainability initiatives

Yesterday I attended an outreach event, organized by AccountAbility and GE, to bring together NGO stakeholders to provide input on GE's continually developing sustainability initiatives. I was one of a couple of other corporate attendees invited to provide input. I tried to do my part, but I think that I also learned just as much on behalf of BT as my GE colleagues no doubt learned for their company. It was an excellent event and something more companies should do.

I had the opportunity to hear about GE's recently announced Healthymagination initiative. What a fantastic example of staying ahead of the competition. Many companies are trying to work out how they catch up with GE's Ecomagination and GE leapfrog themselves with this!

Although I don't for one minute think that the folks at GE based their program on my Four Dimensions of Sustainability, it is a great example for me to use of a comprehensive and holistic approach. It includes significant attention to each of the four dimensions: Direct Impact, Product in Use Impact, Enabled Impact and Inform and Influence.

  • Direct Impact - key initiatives focused on GE's own employee wellness and health.
  • Product in Use and Enabled Impact - the major thrust of the program is R&D spend to launch an ambitious range of health product innovations aiming for cost reduction, access improvement and quality improvement.
  • Inform and Influence - A commitment to applicable health information programming on NBC and MSNBC.

I was also impressed with a recognition of some of the policy issues facing overall healthcare costs and expectations with GE's commitment to producing a range of "only what is needed" products.

Not every company has the range of business capabilities that is available to GE - especially the media outlets that enable them to take Inform and Influence so seriously. But I think this is still an enviable example for all CSR and sustainability executives of taking our role within our own companies way beyond philanthropy.

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