In 1899, The Computing Scale Company, one of three companies that would eventually join to form IBM, hired Richard MacGregor, a Black employee, as well as Lilly J. Philp, Nettie A. Moore and Emma K. Manske. This was 10 years before the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) was founded, 36 years after President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation and 20 years before women won the right to vote. In 1924, these same four employees helped inaugurate IBM’s first Quarter Century Club.
Throughout its history, IBM has consistently led in workplace diversity, from opening a training center for more than 600 people with disabilities in 1943 to to being the first company to provide domestic partner benefits to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender employees to becoming the first company to adopt a global genetic nondiscrimination policy in 2005. Diversity, equal opportunity and cultural acceptance are part of IBM’s core values; they are in our DNA. And 100 years of leadership in work force diversity, evidenced here, clearly demonstrates the company’s ongoing commitment.
Policy Letter #4
On September 21, 1953, IBM President Thomas Watson, Jr. published the company’s first equal opportunity policy letter—one year before Brown vs. Board of Education.
Today, IBM continues to push the boundaries of diversity. We believe that promoting diversity is not only the right thing to do, but a competitive advantage as well—a bridge between the workplace and the marketplace. Our current approach to diversity follows a framework we call Diversity 3.0. The goals of this framework are twofold:
- To expand the definition of diversity to be ever more inclusive
- To advocate for diversity on a global basis, wherever we do business.
Click here for more on IBM’s Diversity 3.0 program.
In 2010, IBM once again challenged the accepted definition of diversity by introducing the concept of “Diversity of Thought.” This important aspect of diversity explores how culture and age impact relationships, and how adaptability and cultural intelligence broaden the capabilities of IBMers to work with each other and our clients. It includes both cultural and generational differences in thought. To foster this, IBM hosted a Cultural Intelligence Summit that generated several different outputs, including a learning roadmap for cultural intelligence and a reverse mentoring program for cultural intelligence.
IBM also promoted diversity around the world in 2010. For example, IBM held its annual Winspiration event in Hyderabad, India, in December, bringing together women employees from around the company and empowering them for success in the workplace. The event is hosted by IBM’s Indian Women’s Leadership Council, and it provides a forum to guide women to best leverage their expertise and hone their leadership skills. This year’s sessions included “Networking with Intent,” “Building Relationships & Influencing Skills” and “Accelerating Your Impact through Risk Taking and Decision Making.”
In addition to expanding the definition and geographical boundaries of diversity, IBM also works to improve upon its existing programs. For example, the company announced a new streamlined process called Accessible Workplace Connection (AWC) for people with disabilities who require accommodations to complete their work. These often simple solutions can include anything from assistive technology solutions—such as screen magnifiers for people with low vision, video relay interpreters for people who are deaf or screen readers for people who are blind—to more practical logistics-related accommodations such as alternative travel arrangements.
Leadership in Workplace Diversity and Employee Privacy
From groundbreaking equal opportunity hiring practices in 1899 to global genetic nondiscrimination policies in 2005, IBM has been a leader in protecting the rights of its workers for more than 100 years.
AWC is a streamlined accommodations process that can be integrated into the workplace through a self-service portal in a Web browser. It is also referred to as a “one-stop shop” for requesting, reviewing and making accommodations for people who have disabilities. The tool enables interactive dialog between employees and the IBM teams responsible for providing accommodations, including expert accommodation specialists. Once a solution is in place, AWC allows individuals to receive ongoing support. It provides a simple way to acquire/support accommodations; tracks whether accommodations are reasonable, comprehensive and effective; helps eliminate process confusion; and offers global consistency.
These are just a few examples of the work IBM did to improve workplace diversity over the course of 2010. Going forward, the company will continue to promote diversity around the world, and provide a fair and accepting workplace.
Learn more about IBM’s 100 years of leadership in promoting an Equal Opportunity Work Force.
Featured IBM Initiatives
A Century of Shared Value
As IBM celebrates 100 years of building a responsible enterprise, we look back at several moments that have defined our values and served as cornerstones in our pursuit of progress.Launch Feature
Smarter Cities Challenge
The Smarter Cities Challenge is a competitive grant program awarding $50 million worth of services and expertise over the next three years to help 100 cities around the globe address a wide range of challenges.Launch Feature
Celebration of Service
IBMers worldwide are improving the communities in which they work, learn and live by pledging time and expertise. IBM honors their commitments with a program of new and expanded grants, and the opportunity to join a global effort.Launch Feature