Operating on a continent as diverse as Africa means that GE needs to be cognisant of the various cultures and how they impact on operations as well as business in the region. In November this year, the GE Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) human resources and communications teams hosted Culture Week events to educate, and engage its employees in an open and transparent manner.
GE has been active on the African continent for more than 100 years and in 2011, the company renewed its focus to meet Africa’s needs by establishing regional headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya. The multinational company, which has more than 3200 employees across the continent, has to ensure that it provides an inclusive environment and a working culturethat everyone will feel a part of.
The annual Culture Week programme aims to ignite conversation and raise awareness about diversity, and inclusion while driving the company’s values. The events also aim to encourage transformation through an understanding of GE’s culture of learning.
The week’s activities included leadership dialogues and discussions on resilience, unconscious bias, trust and diversity as a contributing factor to overall business value. GE believes addressing these issues is at the core of creating a working culture that is inclusive and successful. The company’s culture embraces simplicity and diversity. GE also believes that great, world-changing ideas can come from anyone, anywhere in the organisation and it is through initiatives such as Culture Week that the company nurtures its values.
Among the week’s highlights were GE’s Affinity group sessions that showcased the company’s willingness to look beyond internal activities in an effort to understand the company’s impact on the communities in which it operates. The activities provided an opportunity for employees to appreciate diversity and how collaboration enables the business to move faster internally and externally. There was a group tree-planting session that proved to be quite popular. Sessions such as Learning Priorities and Brilliant You gave employees the opportunity to gain valuable insight into GE.
“It is important to reflect on the changing world around us, and by doing so we stress that culture, diversity and learning are not meaningless terms that can be used lightly. They are complex, controversial and the implications are far-reaching. This is why Culture Week was used as a forum for dialogue and education,” said Betty Abayo, GE Africa’s Diversity and Inclusion leader.
Globally, most progressive multinational companies have been investing in advancing organisational culture. GE’s leadership has been at the forefront of this international development and this initiative provided the inspiration for regional programmes such as Culture Week.
All Images: GE’s Culture Week programme in Sub-Saharan Africa included a tree-planting event for staff and family in Kenya. Credit: GE