GE’s 2010 Citizenship Report: Are They Doing Their Share?

Oct 19, 2011 10:00 AM ET

GE’s 2010 Citizenship Report: Are They Doing Their Share?

GE’s 2010 Corporate Citizenship  Report makes the following statement early on:

“GE businesses depend on the infrastructure, skills and institutions of stable, prosperous societies and healthy environments. To succeed as a global business, we need to be a part of building these societies where we operate. We do this through the products and services we create, the way we work with employees, customers, suppliers and investors, the public policies we advocate and the philanthropic partnerships we support.”

This brings to mind the recent quote by Elizabeth Warren, especially in light of the fact that GE, despite $150 billion in revenues, paid zero taxes last year:

“There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own. Nobody. You built a factory out there— good for you! But I want to be clear. You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for. You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate. You were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn’t have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory, and hire someone to protect against this, because of the work the rest of us did. Now look, you built a factory and it turned into something terrific, or a great idea — God bless. Keep a big hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.”

GE, in response to the criticism they have received over this, point out that they are simply playing by the rules. They lost a lot of money in their finance business in the previous years, and they were able to carry those losses forward against future earnings. So they were simply taking advantage of legitimate tax policy that was available to them.

To continue reading the critique of the GE citizenship report, click here.

  About GE
GE (NYSE: GE) is an advanced technology, services and finance company taking on the world’s toughest challenges. Dedicated to innovation in energy, health, transportation and infrastructure, GE operates in more than 100 countries and employs about 300,000 people worldwide. For more information, visit the company's Web site at
Citizenship at GE is more than a program or a set of good intentions - it is a full-time commitment built upon cultural behaviors and actions. These actions are integrated with business strategy and have defined goals, strategies and metrics that make it actionable and accountable.