Gerald L. Phillippe, president of General Electric in 1962 (far left), Ralph J. Cordiner, chairman of the board (center) and G.E. executive Laurence I. Wood prepare to meet shareholders at the company’s annual meeting in 1962.
In 1962, Wilma Porter Soss president of the Federation of Women Shareholders in American Business and had made a name for herself by annoying male corporate executives. During the GE Shareholders meeting at the Washington Avenue Armory that spring, which G.E. used to push its “Accent on Value” sales campaign, Soss and federation colleague Beatrice Kelekian dominated the microphone.
“The stockholders are running the meeting and we are permitting you to chair it,” she told Ralph J. Cordiner, G.E.’s chairman of the board. “Now you listen to me. I’m going to say what I have to say.”
One thing Soss wanted was a woman on the board of directors. Cordiner said such an appointment had been long considered by the board.
Schenectady Gazette reporter Peg Churchill noted the chairman had a less contentious conversation with Mrs. M. Dewar Winne. Winne was against secret ballots for voting issues. Other shareholders were more interested in the numbers. G.E. President Gerald L. Phillippe said the 1961 sales of $4,457,000,000 represented the best sales year in company history. Net earnings were $242 million.
“General Electric is determined to grow, strengthening its long established businesses generating new markets and meeting the challenges of lively competition at home and abroad.”