This article is part of a series of reflections on the Global Network Annual Conference. To view the previous article, click here.
The plan was that during lunch we would have a facilitated discussion with our GE Bromont tour guides. My group finished the tour late, and as we assembled around the table, excited and famished, sitting arrangements were a second thought. Incidentally, I found myself at one end of the table with the guides, while the conversation was taking place at the other end, out of earshot. To strike up a conversation, I asked Sonny, our guide, how he had learned to speak English so well (remember that Bromont is in small town Québec). Our conversation moved on to Sonny’s personal story of how he ended up working at GE Bromont and what he had in plan for the future.
Suddenly Eli, who was sitting beside me, piped in, in English, with a powerful question: ‘what is the best thing about working here?’ Sonny answered that it was a great place to work that paid well and where he would want his son to work. Now that grabbed Eli’s attention! He explained he had the habit of using that query to ‘test’ workplaces throughout his long career; this was the first time he had someone answer that they wanted their children to work at the same place they did, as most people would like something better than what they already had for their children. Sonny argued that his current position was fulfilling and even enviable in his community. It then struck me that we had just visited an organization that made its workers fulfilled while outshining the competition, and had had the privilege of experiencing an exceptional workplace.
Besides providing a perceptive benchmark for workplace satisfaction, Eli’s question opened up a new line of inquiry for me. Sonny’s response touched upon the ideas of continuity and prosperity, and these are intimately linked to the wider environment, in this case, the community. What was the impact of the community on GE Bromont’s success, and what are the impacts of GE Bromont on the community? How will they align their actions to ensure continued shared prosperity for the next generation?