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IBM has just released our annual Corporate Responsibility Report covering 2016. Our reports – like our citizenship initiatives – are not simply lists of cash contributions to causes that complement our industry. IBM’s approach to corporate citizenship is, and always has been, far more complex, more engaged and more vested in sustainable outcomes than can be covered by a list of donations. Instead, we aim to present the highlights of IBM’s commitment to the communities, to the countries and to the planet where we live and conduct business.
As a values-driven organization comprised of hundreds of thousands of thoughtful, committed and caring people around the world, IBM and IBMers take our culture of service personally. Some of the world’s most talented people – experts who could work anywhere – choose IBM because of their desire to contribute, to do something significant, and by so doing…to change the world. They are not naïve in pursuing this quest, as each of us is humbled by the staggering challenges of the modern era. But where others may retreat into isolation or seek comfort in the status quo, IBMers push forward. Our business demands it. And because our business and our commitment to service are inseparable, our culture and our values encourage and enable the actions, initiatives and essential partnerships that help us accomplish what none has done before.
Our report illuminates several key focus areas of our work throughout 2016:
Creating opportunity through education and training to enable economic mobility while building today’s and tomorrow’s “New Collar” workforce: IBM’s P-TECH schools – each a partnership among a school district, a community college and a corporate sponsor – continued to scale across the U.S. and around the world. Launched in 2011, P-TECH soon will reach the 100-schools mark. Young people – mostly from historically underrepresented backgrounds – are blazing through their “six-year” high school + college degree program in as little as 3.5 years. Ten have joined IBM (several of them earning their four-year degrees while working), while others are pursuing baccalaureate study full-time – including at Cornell and Georgetown – on full scholarships.
In addition to P-TECH, IBM is packing the new-collar jobs pipeline with graduates of our Veterans Employment Accelerator Impact Grant program. With our partners, we have trained 600 military veterans on IBM cybersecurity software to become certified data analysts, and 100 to date are now employed in growth-industry positions with us or one of our partners. In addition, nearly 600 participants from IBM’s Africa Skills Initiative have joined us as employees or interns.
An IBM Corporate Service Corps team in the Philippines
Leveraging cognitive capabilities to address health disparities and improve the effectiveness of teaching and learning: We launched IBM Health Corps in 2016 as a way of concentrating our technologies and expertise on improving global health. One of the program’s first initiatives to identify and manage discrepancies in chemotherapy availability and affordability in sub-Saharan Africa resulted in an early 2017 breakthrough agreement that will literally ease suffering and save lives.
On the education front, Teacher Advisor with Watson – a free, cloud-based cognitive coach developed by teachers for teachers – completed trials in 2016, and gained the endorsement of the American Federation of Teachers and key education influencers in preparation for its 2017-2018 school year launch. Teacher Advisor provides qualified, vetted lesson plans and teaching mentorship for elementary school math, and will scale to encompass additional grade levels and subjects.
Preserving and protecting the environment through global efforts to help combat the effects of climate change: In 2016, IBM’s renewable electricity purchases represented 21.5 percent of our global consumption (beyond what’s already provided from the grid), exceeding our goal of 20 percent. IBM also achieved its third-generation CO2 emissions goal, reducing operational emissions by 38.1 percent compared to a 2005 baseline and surpassing the 35 percent target we’d set for 2020. We achieved these two important goals four years ahead of schedule, and continue to apply expertise and technology to address environmental challenges for our clients and the world.
Through these and many other efforts – including skills-based volunteerism; disaster preparedness and relief; enabling the computing power for humanitarian research; consulting pro bono with cities, regions and nations on economic development and improving the lives of their citizens; and helping grassroots nonprofits operate more efficiently to serve more effectively – IBM continues its holistic and broadly based approach to global service. We invite you to learn about our efforts, and join us in our commitment to making the world a better place.
Jen Crozier is IBM’s Vice President of Corporate Citizenship, and President of the IBM International Foundation.
Download the 2016 IBM Corporate Responsibility Report