So what is Jeff Immelt really saying about the election of Donald Trump?
The chief executive of General Electric Co. shared his thoughts about the presidential election in a message to company employees Wednesday afternoon. It included pointed references to GE’s “core values” that respect “diversity” and “people of all races, genders and sexual orientations”—phrases that during the political campaign had a fairly loaded context.
GE relocated to Boston from suburban Connecticut in August to tap into the region’s higher education system and pool of tech talent and entrepreneurs. It also received public subsidies from both the city and the state to call Boston home.
During one point early in the campaign populist Democrat Bernie Sanders villified General Electric as an archtype of corporate greed, and Trump, too, mentioned job losses at GE plants during campaign events in appealing to displaced workers.
Immelt spoke out earlier in the campaign, too. And he essentially reiterated some of those thoughts in his note Wednesday, acknowledging the “political volatility and populism” that characterized the election, but also striking a note for the “importance of globalization and investment.”
The full text of Immelt’s letter is as follows:
The American people have spoken loudly and voted for change and Donald Trump won a decisive victory. The company will support the new congress and the President Elect and work with his administration as we have with each administration for the past 125 years.
At GE, we do a lot of things well but one thing we really know how to do is adapt to the rapidly changing new world order with a sense of optimism and purpose. The reason we can embrace change and adapt is that our core values always remain the same. We value diversity and respect for each other above all else. We support people of all races, genders and sexual orientations and will continue to ensure a level playing field. We celebrate and will continue to strengthen our affinity groups as a key pipeline for talent. We believe in the importance of globalization and investment. With these core values, we are able to run a global company that adds value to the countries and communities in which we do business. We are a meritocracy with the highest standards.
What we witnessed last night is not a uniquely American phenomenon. This election is the latest step in a longer-term, global trend that we have been adjusting to for a while -- one that’s marked by political volatility and populism. It is important to understand and learn from this election. This trend began with the financial crisis in 2008 - many people believe the system is not working for them. They haven’t seen real economic growth and they believe that their countries are on the wrong track. People don’t trust traditional institutions like the media, the Washington establishment and business. We also saw this in Britain with Brexit, and in other recent elections in Europe and Asia.
Globally, we’ve worked to adapt the company to this trend. We are localizing our operations and building strong relationships with suppliers and customers around the world. We are providing the goods and services needed to grow economies and improve the lives of all people -- reliable, cost-effective power, healthcare, transportation. We will continue to do this in the US as we do elsewhere.
I am proud to work for GE and proud of all of you. Over my career I have learned to listen more and judge less. In these times of uncertainty, we control what we can control. We must lead with more passion and commitment than ever before. We must embrace each other’s differences and views (including views on this election!) and encourage people with new thinking and perspectives to join the company around the world.
The next step is on us. Let’s go!