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Jeff Immelt Has an Epiphany

Posted by Larry Doyle on December 10, 2009 12:38 PM |

Jeff Immelt

Jeff Immelt

Very interesting how corporate executives get a dose of religion when faced with an American public enraged by government bailouts, increased unemployment, and little credit.

Let’s start keeping a list of those in Washington, on Wall Street, and in the boardrooms who have these epiphanies. Will talk lead to action or are these individuals merely raising the pandering to another level?

A few weeks back in my post, “Chris Dodd Has an Epiphany,” I highlighted that Senator Chris Dodd had just such an epiphany. Today, the Financial Times highlights GE CEO Jeff Immelt’s epiphany and reports, GE Chief Attacks Executive ‘Greed,’:

Jeffrey Immelt, General Electric’s chief executive, said on Wednesday his generation of business leaders had succumbed to “meanness and greed” that had harmed the US economy and increased the gap between the rich and the poor.

Mr Immelt’s attack on his fellow corporate chiefs – made in a speech at the West Point military academy – is one of the strongest criticisms by a top executive of the compensation and business practices that prevailed before the financial crisis.

“We are at the end of a difficult generation of business leadership … tough-mindedness, a good trait, was replaced by meanness and greed, both terrible traits,” said Mr Immelt, who succeeded Jack Welch, one of the toughest leaders of his generation, at the helm of the US conglomerate. “Rewards became perverted. The richest people made the most mistakes with the least accountability.”

Several executives, especially in financial services, have apologised for their companies’ role in the crisis but Mr Immelt’s remarks went further, linking bad leadership to growing inequality.

“The bottom 25 per cent of the American population is poorer than they were 25 years ago. That is just wrong,” he said. “Ethically, leaders do share a common responsibility to narrow the gap between the weak and the strong.”

Is Immelt looking to be on the record on this topic in hopes of scoring points with the American public? Is this merely pandering? Or will Immelt follow this up with action?

Immelt has the bully pulpit? How exactly will he use it? While on one hand, I commend Immelt for raising the topic, talk is cheap if not followed up with action.

What plans will Immelt look to implement at GE? What conferences or symposiums will he host to keep this topic elevated?

Who will hold him and his corporate colleagues accountable?


  • TIM Dunn

    Isn’t odd or is it that WSJ did not find the Immelt speech worth noting
    even on some back page wit the classifieds, any mention of the Immedlt speech,
    but FT put it on the front page. You had to strain not to say anything positive….
    only posed a challenge of sorts.

    Tim Dunn

  • kbdabear

    GE stands to make a killing by being the company that brings good things to Obama

    Their subsidiary is supposed to build the patient database for Obamacare

    They’re supposed to be a big part of building the “smart grid”

    They got a sweetheart deal on a contract for engines in the Defense budget

    That’s before we even get to GE Capital

    Yeh, he’s blowing smoke up the public’s ass

  • Bill

    Immelt will be too busy licking Maximum Leader’s boots to follow up on his lofty rhetoric.

  • divvytrader

    Immelt has fully hitched himself to Dear Leader and the hopes to keep GE afloat getting contracts from the government . He is Keith Olbermann as CEO . How much of his millions in salary and bonus is he giving away ?

    Spare me .


    Good recognition of the problem but sounds like total crap that Immelt is talking unless he backs it up. I won’t believe he’s made a personal commitment to change until people like him march on Washington and demand the abolishment of poverty in America by demanding zero unemployment with a living wage above poverty for everyone, which means you protect the borders, help Mexico and Canada get their economy big enough to support their people above poverty so our borders are more secure, and tie taxes of the riches Americans and companies to the need to accomplish it.

    I think it’s such a sham we’re hearing our leader say there are jobs that are gone and never to return. It’s because we let greedy capitalist outsource them, tear down factories, destroying communities, and turning America into a slave camp. Especially when you consider they’re not even protecting the jobs in America from illegals entering from Mexico and Canada. The American worker is becoming as disposable as toilet paper. It’s not that the jobs can’t be returned. It’s that there must be deals made to let big business slave us! Just as capitalism is manipulated to serve big business, it can be manipulated to serve all Americans and with planned upward mobility in pay!

  • frenk46

    Great manager who has made huge profits. Everything else is envy. Frank Pansera

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