April 11, 2024 By Kitty Chaney Reed 4 min read

IBM strives to create spaces where all employees have equal access to opportunities and support. Creating a sense of belonging for all IBMers drives significant value for our organization, helping us to align employees with our purpose as a company: being the catalyst that helps make the world work better.

Our core objectives—delivering innovative products and services, maximizing business productivity and efficiency while contributing positively to society—wouldn’t be possible without our community of skilled and talented IBMers representing all backgrounds and identities. This is especially true in this unprecedented era of rapid digital transformation and the rise of new technologies like generative artificial intelligence (gen AI).

For us, everything begins with our culture. Our “culture formula” is the key to bringing the IBM work experience and brand to life. The formula unites our purpose, fundamental values, and the growth behaviors. Our culture guides how each of us shows up for our colleagues, clients, and partners. We want every IBMer to feel empowered to bring their authentic self to work, to pursue learning opportunities and skills development opportunities that enable them to explore new ideas and innovative approaches.

A world-class culture has become even more important as we address new challenges in the AI era, like the changing skills sets, or workplace designs, and the new ways IBMers work together. Our culture’s emphasis on inclusion and learning presents us with a unique opportunity to respond to these issues.

Focus on skills and opportunities

We believe the talent gap is one of the biggest challenges facing businesses today and we are taking bold action to help close it through our social impact and internal education programs. This will help democratize opportunity, fill the growing skills gap, and give current and new generations of workers the tools they need to build a better future for themselves and society.

In 2021 we established a goal to skill 30 million people by 2030. Since then, over 11.5 million learners have engaged with free IBM training content through our combined education initiatives. We are on track to meet our goal. Building towards this target, and given the rising needs for AI skills, we also created a goal in 2023 to train 2 million learners in AI by the end of 2026. For example, through free education programs like IBM SkillsBuild, we provide valuable skills and career opportunities in technology to traditionally underrepresented communities, including newly introduced generative AI coursework. In addition, we are expanding our collaborations with universities and partners to deliver more AI training to adult learners.

Additionally, we offer opportunities to acquire technical expertise through pro-bono programs like the IBM Sustainability Accelerator. By applying IBM’s technology and an ecosystem of experts, we scale sustainability projects supporting populations especially vulnerable to environmental threats. To date, we have launched 4 cohorts focused on sustainable agriculture, clean energy, water management, and resilient cities. Through this program, IBMers are also given the opportunity to volunteer their time and expertise while developing their technical and leadership skills.

IBM also invests in its employees’ professional development with tools and resources that empower IBMers to advance their own career paths and build new skills. During this AI era, we believe it is more important than ever to make sure as many people as possible have access to this technology and understand how it can augment the way we get work done. In 2023, IBMers came together for the “watsonx challenge” to learn more about generative AI and automation. We also promote other ways to build skills and expertise critical to job roles to foster internal mobility. Last year, IBMers completed an average of 85 learning hours. In addition, we have initiatives such as our Apprenticeship Program, under our skills-first hiring vision, to help ensure the next decade in tech is more inclusive.

Fostering a safe and good employee experience

With the idea of making everyone feel welcome, IBM has a comprehensive list of initiatives, networks and programs to help IBMers feel supported. In 2023, 9 out of 10 surveyed employees reported feeling empowered to express their authentic identities at work, and more than 8 out of 10 indicated that they were engaged at work.

For example, we have eight official communities internally and we set a strategy for each of them annually through Community Leadership Councils, which are supported by our most senior IBM leaders and amplified through our Business Resource Groups (BRGs), and we have added 25 more BRGs last year. We also have made mental health a priority through assistance programs, and we provide voluntary training and support to help IBMers be an upstander through inclusive behaviors.

Other examples are our volunteering and giving programs supported by active and retired IBMers. In 2023, IBMers logged over 543,000 volunteer hours, and more than 8 out of 10 IBMers surveyed believed that IBM makes a positive impact in the community. We will keep working to provide our employees with more opportunities in this area and increase our volunteering hours.

These and other initiatives helped us decrease our voluntary attrition compared to each of the past two years.

Promoting social responsibility through our supply chain

Finally, IBM continues working to promote social and environmental responsibility in our global supply network and across our industry.

Since 2010, IBM has required its first-tier suppliers to create and maintain a social and environmental management system that confirms their commitment to continuous improvement and compliance. In 2023, we worked with over 10,000 suppliers of hardware, software, and services, and we continued to promote social and environmental responsibility in their operations. This includes the requirement that they adhere to the RBA Code of Conduct, which contains provisions on topics such as labor, health and safety, environmental requirements, ethics, and management systems.

By leveraging the power of people, technology, and resources, we can maximize our equitable impact worldwide. You can learn more about how IBM is leveraging technology for impact in our IBM Impact Report 2023.

Learn more about this and other initiatives in our 2023 IBM Impact Report

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