Jack Welch Shares Attitudes About Women—Is GE Cringing?

Former GE chairman and CEO Jack Welch stole the spotlight at the Wall Street Journal's Women in the Economy Conference this week in Palm Beach, Fla., when he told an audience of women executives that to advance in their careers, "performance is it," and suggested that individual mentoring and diversity programs do not help women in their career paths.

Referring to a women's forum inside GE as a "victims unit," Welch told the audience, "Stop lying about it. It's true. Great women get upset about getting into the victim's unit," the WJS reported.

According to the WSJ report, the message received by some attendees was that Welch dismisses organized efforts by women to illuminate long-held biases against women as senior management material and break the male lock-hold on C-suite roles. Great performance results in recognition and advancement, and if women haven't made it to the C-suite, it's because they haven't "over-delivered."

Welch's refusal to accept the significance of "subtle barriers to women's advancement," as former White House press secretary Dee Dee Myers framed it for the WSJ, surely reverberated through the upper (and middle) echelons of GE's current management. Welch may no longer be CEO, but his 20-plus years in that role and his continued high profile in the media means that any provocative statement he makes will reflect on his former employer.

Current GE chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt now has an opportunity to offer his own contrasting statement, and perhaps show an in-depth understanding of the historical role of women in the workplace. Rising talent within his ranks will appreciate it—and fresh talent will see GE as an employer of choice.

Follow Steve Goldstein: @SGoldsteinAI


Comments Off


About Steve Goldstein

Steve Goldstein is editorial director of events for Access Intelligence’s PR News brand, which encompasses premium, how-to content, data and competitive intelligence for public relations professionals; PR News Online; PR News conferences, webinars and awards programs; and PR News guidebooks. Previously at AI Steve was editorial director of min, min ’s b2b and minonline as well as managing editor of CableFAX: The Magazine and CableWorld. Before joining Access Intelligence, he was executive editor of World Screen News, and editor of Film/Tape World, which covered film, television and commercial production in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Deals of the Week

Get $150 Off PR News' Google Conference


Join us on February 11, 2015, for PR News’ essential Google Conference at the Hyatt Regency San Francisco, and learn how to take advantage of everything Google has to offer communicators.

Use code “150off” at checkout.

Get $50 off PR News' Media Relations Guidebook


This 8-chapter resource contains practical implications for some of the most innovative developments in media relations, including the technologies, methodologies and mannerisms that determine the ecosystem in which PR pros practice this essential part of their craft.

Use code “50off” at checkout.

Save $100 on a PR News Subscription

Let PR News become your weekly, go-to resource for the latest PR trends, case studies and tip sheets. Topics covered include visual storytelling, social media, measurement, crisis management and media relations.

Use code “SUBDEAL” at checkout.

Comments are closed.