Skip to main content
  •  

Chairman’s Letter

A commitment to corporate responsibility pervades IBM, from new hires to the chairman’s office. In this year’s letter, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer Sam Palmisano describes IBM’s long-term approach to corporate responsibility, and the IBMers that make it possible.

IBM’s Approach

Through the years, IBM has consistently expanded the definition of corporate citizenship, pushing the boundaries of what is required to be considered a responsible enterprise. In this section of IBM’s 2010 Corporate Responsibility Report, you will find more detail on our approach to corporate responsibility, and some examples of how that approach manifested itself during the past year.

Communities

At IBM we engage with communities around the world by offering our technology, services and expertise to help solve some of the world’s most complex problems. While the monetary value of these contributions is great, we eschew checkbook philanthropy whenever possible. We believe that this approach is the most efficient, effective and sustainable way to practice good corporate citizenship. And we believe it is helping to make the world work better. In this section of IBM’s 2010 Corporate Responsibility Report, you will find examples of the contributions IBM made to the global community this past year.

The IBMer

For the last 100 years, IBM has pioneered innovative approaches to hiring, managing and retaining our work force. From some of the earliest thinking on work force diversity to progressive programs for employee well-being and leadership development, this ongoing commitment to our employees is critical to the success of IBM and IBMers. And as the nature of our business changes, we will continue to apply the same innovation and creativity we use to develop products and services to our relationship with employees. In this section of IBM’s 2010 Corporate Responsibility Report, you will find examples of the commitments IBM made to its work force this past year.

Environment

IBM has long maintained an unwavering commitment to environmental protection, which was formalized by a corporate environmental policy in 1971. The policy calls for IBM to be an environmental leader across all of our business activities, from our research, operations and products to the services and solutions we provide our clients to help them be more protective of the environment. Download this section of the report (2.2MB)

Supply Chain

IBM manages a supply chain of more than 27,000 suppliers in nearly 100 different countries. We understand that managing a supply chain of this size carries with it considerable social responsibility. Even so, we are continually expanding the definition of what it means to run a responsible supply chain, challenging ourselves and our suppliers to reach ever higher standards of social and environmental compliance. In this section of IBM’s 2010 Corporate Responsibility Report, you will find examples of IBM’s supply chain responsibility efforts over the past year.

Governance,
Ethics and Integrity

Both the size and nature of IBM’s business necessitate that it adhere to the highest standards of conduct. IBM employs more than 400,000 employees, and provides services and technology that support businesses, governments, schools, hospitals and highways. As such, integrity, transparency, privacy and risk management are all crucial parts of our business, and our commitment to making the world work better. In this section of IBM’s 2010 Corporate Responsibility Report, you will find examples of how IBM is setting the modern standard for business ethics.

Technology in Communities

Human ingenuity and effort are key factors in addressing the world’s challenges. But technology can play a critical role too. Where possible, IBM identifies opportunities to directly apply its technology and expertise to problems facing local and global communities. To follow are examples of how we have matched our innovation with community needs in 2010.

World Community Grid

Since 2004, IBM’s World Community Grid has pooled processing power from idle computers around the world to help solve humanitarian problems that require intensive computer analysis. We do this by using grid computing to join together many individual computers, creating a large, virtual system with massive computational power that far surpasses the power of all but a handful of supercomputers. Because the nature of the work is split into small pieces that can be processed simultaneously, research time is reduced from years to months and even to weeks.

World Community Grid is another example of how IBM tightly integrates its expertise as a technology and services company with its community service efforts. Since its launch, more than 540,000 users and 1.7 million devices have contributed more than 400,000 years of computing to help researchers understand childhood cancer, HIV/AIDS, muscular dystrophy, clean energy and more.

Watch up close and personal stories about World Community Grid from IBM supporters

In 2010, World Community Grid helped a team of researchers at the renowned Scripps Research Institute discover two new compounds that prove the existence of new binding sites on HIV protease. Associate Professor C. David Stout, senior author of the study, explained, “These results open the door to a whole new approach to drug design against HIV protease,” which is an enzyme used by HIV to create new, infectious viral particles.

Also in 2010, World Community Grid added a new ambition to its portfolio: clean water. In September, IBM announced a project with Tsinghua University in Beijing, China, in coordination with a consortium of institutions from all over the world, which will endeavor to understand the molecular scale properties of a new class of efficient and inexpensive water filter materials. The goal is to help satisfy demand for inexpensive, clean drinking water in developing countries.

The program is part of a broader effort called Computing for Clean Water, which is the seventeenth research project to be launched on World Community Grid and one of eight projects currently active, or intermittent.

200 Million

results returned to researchers
by computers on World Community
Grid in 2010.

The other seven active research projects are:

The key to World Community Grid is scaling capacity. That’s why every year IBM actively promotes the project and encourages new members to sign up. In 2010 we launched a social media strategy, including Facebook and Twitter outreach. During the year, the grid added 230,000 new devices, contributed 110,000 years of computer run time and returned more than 200 million discrete results to the research projects.

Also, in early 2011, World Community Grid was the recipient of winnings realized from the game show, Jeopardy! Watson, an artificially intelligent computing system developed by IBM, was a contestant on Jeopardy! and placed first, winning $1 million. Half of those winnings were donated as grants to a number of World Community Grid research projects with the goal of accelerating results.

IBM’s World Community Grid Unveils
Research Projects on Three Continents
to Improve Water Quality

1.2 billion people do not have access to clean water. World Community Grid links millions of personal computers to help develop techniques to produce cleaner and safer water.

Trailblazer Grants

IBM strives to make its donations to the not-for-profit community sustainable, impactful and scalable. IBM closely ties many of its contribution offerings to its business expertise and product offerings. In this way, IBM eschews checkbook philanthropy, and instead engages not-for-profit organizations on a deeper, more collaborative level. This approach helps IBM understand the true needs of these organizations and deliver greater value, and it helps the organizations better understand IBM.

First piloted in 2009, IBM Trailblazer Grants are designed to offer not-for-profit organizations a chance to enhance their performance and assist them in delivering better services to the community. The offerings help these organizations improve IT infrastructure and build leadership and technology skills through consultations with IBM experts and access to IBM technology. These tailored solutions were developed in collaboration with organizations in the not-for-profit community, and are specifically designed to support them in their efforts to serve our communities. They often involve in-depth workshops on subjects as varied as project management, leadership, operational risk and the strategic use of social media. And they offer specific technology services such as security vulnerability testing, data backup and collaboration software.

In 2010, IBM greatly expanded the Trailblazer Grant program, both within the United States and abroad. The company made 135 worldwide grants during the year, with a market value of $1.9 million. That’s up from 21 grants in 2009. As the program continues to scale and meet with positive results, the company plans on expanding to more than 200 grants in 2011.

Thus far the feedback on the Trailblazer Grant program has been overwhelmingly positive. In a recent survey, 95 percent of grantees said the offering will have a positive impact on their organization. And 98 percent said IBM should continue to provide the offering to other organizations.

The packaged services and technology offerings of the Trailblazer Grant program will continue to evolve as the needs of the not-for-profit community change and IBM’s business offerings grow.

Currently, there are 10 different grant packages, including:

  • Project Management: Concepts & Consultation
  • Strategies for Social Media
  • Leadership & Collaboration Workshop
  • Operational Risk & Resiliency Assessment
  • Data Backup Services
  • Hacker Vulnerability Assessment
  • Strategic Assessment
  • LotusLive
  • Lotus® Foundations
  • Mini-Jam Collaboration Platform
2009: 21 grants. 2010: 135 grants.

IBM continues to expand its Trailblazer Grant program. In 2010, IBM issued 135 grants, up from 21 in 2009. IBM plans to issue more than 200 around the world in 2011.

 

Disaster Relief

When disaster strikes, people want to help. IBMers are no different. As such, IBM has a long tradition of swiftly responding to disasters. In particular, IBM has helped to speed and coordinate relief efforts on the ground through a combination of expertise from its consultants, volunteer efforts and monetary donations by its employees, and the deployment of technology and resources to fit the situation.

In 2010, IBM responded in a variety of ways to earthquakes in Haiti, Chile, China and Australia, as well as to flooding in Pakistan. In Haiti, IBM worked with a number of nongovernmental organizations with local staff and experience. We donated services to design an enterprise mobility solution, which led to an expanded system that helped track vehicles and supplies during the chaotic months following the earthquake. We provided an in-depth assessment of the options available in the portable data center market, helping NGOs with crucial criteria for selecting and deploying a portable data center. We donated KidSmart Early Learning Centers to educational facilities being managed by local NGOs. Other equipment was donated to government ministries through the Clinton Global Initiative. A consortium of medical practitioners trying to improve medical care for Haitians received a donation of Lotus Live. Volunteers assisted Haitians with U.S. legal residency matters and taught project management skills to those involved in rebuilding. And IBMers contributed more than $1 million of their own money to charitable groups working in Haiti.

In addition, IBM translated and distributed trauma guides that aid caregivers in recognizing and treating the effects of trauma in children and adults affected by disaster. IBM’s trauma guides were developed in collaboration with trauma specialists from Harvard Medical School, who based the content on training they provided following the 2004 Asian tsunami. These guides provide a practical resource for caregivers offering psychological support to survivors of disaster. Following the earthquake in Haiti, IBM translated the guides into French and Haitian Creole for distribution throughout the country. More than 10,000 copies of the Haitian Creole and French translations were distributed in Haiti following the earthquake. Spanish, Simplified Chinese and Urdu translations were distributed following incidents in Chile, China and Pakistan, respectively.

$1 million. American Red Cross

IBMers donated more than $1 million
of their own money in 2010 to volunteer
efforts in Haiti.

In Chile, IBM worked with the Red Cross on a project for relief following the earthquake in February, and helped create a smarter command center equipped with Lotus Live and Sahana, an open source disaster management suite of tools. The project was highlighted as an example of a smart solution at the Chilean Innovation Discovery Workshop for government. Chile’s Minister of Housing and Urban Development, Magdalena Matte, participated in the workshop, which highlighted IBM’s use of technology to facilitate relief.

10,000

copies of Haitian Creole and French trauma guides were distributed in Haiti following the earthquake.

The Sahana software, a modular and flexible Web-based suite of disaster management applications, was created in Sri Lanka in the desperate three-week period after the cataclysmic 2004 South Asia tsunami that claimed more than 200,000 lives. Now governed by the Sahana Software Foundation, Sahana is used to track everything from victim identification to refugee camps, relief organizations and donations of relief goods. It is an active and evolving open source project that is actively promoted by IBM as a strategic component of disaster response. In collaboration with Sahana experts, IBM has sponsored Sahana Camps in numerous locations, inviting IBMers and others to collaborate on improving skills to use the technology after disaster. A project with the Philippines Red Cross to customize Sahana to that agency’s specifications, begun following the 2009 typhoon, was successfully completed in December.

People affected by disaster in Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Indonesia, Peru, India, Chile and China’s Sichuan Province have benefited from Sahana. And last year IBM began work with regional governments in India to host a version of the Sahana software in the cloud, to demonstrate a new regional model for Sahana support within IBM.