Be open and change the world

By and Guillermo Miranda | 7 minute read | July 9, 2019

It’s official. Red Hat is a key part of IBM’s future. Together, our two companies will bring greater business value and fuel open source collaboration for our clients. The business opportunities are significant, and so are the possibilities for delivering social impact.

As leaders in corporate social responsibility, we are united in the belief that working in an open way has the power to change the world for the better. We are excited about the union of our two companies, and the potential to make an impact.

Here we share our views.


On our new partnership:  What do you think are the greatest opportunities to deliver social impact now that Red Hat and IBM have come together?


Guillermo: IBM and Red Hat share a strong belief that our combined technology and expertise can help address societal challenges. Together, we will focus on three areas –education and skills, civic and societal community initiatives, and STEM workforce development.

Red Hat associates will have access to IBM volunteer opportunities, including Corporate Services Corps (CSC) engagements. Through CSC, large, diverse teams of employees partner with nonprofits, social enterprises, and governments worldwide to address pressing challenges in areas such as education, health, disaster preparedness, sustainability and economic development. Since it began in 2008, CSC has sent more than 4,000 employees to more than 1,400 projects in more than 40 nations –and we can’t wait to deploy more!

In addition to many volunteer opportunities, Red Hat and IBM will join forces on a range of programs, from early learning through adult education, focused on STEM skills acceleration. These programs will create a continuum of learning encompassing both in-school and out-of-school opportunities, university programs and workforce development.


DeLisa: In support of advancing education and skills, we are particularly excited to collaborate with IBM as an industry partner for the P-TECH (Pathways in Technology Early College High School) education model. P-TECH is an innovative public school model for grades 9-14 designed to create long term opportunities for marginalized communities while addressing skills gaps in the labor market by linking education and workforce development. Students from primarily disadvantaged backgrounds earn both their high school diploma and a cost-free, STEM-related associate’s degree, along with the skills and lifelong adaptability needed to fill competitive jobs. Industry partners provide mentors, paid internships, workplace visits and job interviews.

IBM helped found this model in 2011 with one school in Brooklyn, New York. It has expanded to 200 schools, 650 companies, and 75 colleges globally, preparing more than 125,000 students on four continents for “new collar” jobs—emerging, high-demand roles that do not necessarily require traditional, four-year university degrees, but still require specialized training.


Guillermo: Huge opportunity as well to support connections between IBM Skills Academy and Red Hat Academy that we look forward to exploring. Both entities have deep existing relationships with universities that create opportunities for cross-connection and support. And both programs together allow us to make a compelling case to institutions looking to improve their computer science curricula.


On maintaining a culture of giving: Both Red Hat and IBM have very strong cultures of giving back. What drives you to make a difference in the communities in which you live and work?


DeLisa: Red Hat’s why statement is “open unlocks the world’s potential.” We developed it with input from associates around the world, and it explains why Red Hat exists. We believe open technologies and open culture unlock potential, for our customers, for ourselves, and in the world. In communities across the globe, Red Hat associates volunteer, often leveraging open source technologies, to bring people together and make new connections.

We look to our associates to guide the areas where we seek to have a positive impact on the world. Red Hat Cares, our flagship corporate social responsibility program, includes our grants to nonprofit organizations, our gift matching and global volunteer programs, as well as leadership engagement. We primarily focus our efforts in areas Red Hatters care about the most, including organizations that provide for basic human needs, STEM education, and health education.


Guillermo: Applying our tech for good comes naturally for us at IBM. You could say it’s in our DNA. “Innovation that matters —for our company and for the world” is one of three core values ingrained in the hearts and minds of IBMers around the world.

For more than a century, we have been applying science to real-world problems to create a better tomorrow. One that’s more sustainable, more secure and more equitable.

Just look at the kinds of challenges we’ve taken on through our history –from the creation of Social Security in the United States, to shaping modern banking and business, to putting a man on the moon to, more recently, ushering in a new era of artificial intelligence.

We go after big challenges. It’s what makes IBM, IBM.


On being open: Trust, transparency and openness lie at the core of everything we do at IBM and Red Hat. How have you witnessed these values in action in your experiences as CSR leaders?


DeLisa: At our recent Red Hat Summit, I had the opportunity to share the story of the Red Hat Open Source for Education (ROSE) project. ROSE is a cross-community effort that brings students from Tira, Israel, together with students from Yonatan Middle School in Ra’anana to the Red Hat offices in Israel to learn about the Linux operating system and Python programming. The students spend six months on a weekly basis working and learning together. The experience helps the students make new connections and overcome cultural and political differences. And it has even inspired some participants to pursue careers in technology and re-create the program in other communities.

By putting our values of trust and transparency into action, Red Hatters have been able to create experiences with open source technology that build bridges between communities and create enduring connections.


Guillermo: Trust and responsibility are core to all our relationships –with employees, with clients, with shareholders and with the communities in which we live and work.

Each day at IBM we demonstrate leadership and accountability on critical areas such as environmental conservation, employee well-being, skills and education, corporate governance, research and development, as well as the ethical development and use of technology. This is evident in how we manage our operations, how we renew and reinvent our practices and in how we take an early stand on issues that matter.

For instance, our IBM Health Corps works to address public health disparities across the globe. Our teams of IBM experts help government and organizations improve access to and quality of healthcare for all.

Another example is through our Code and Response program, which enables open source software programmers to channel their coding talent for helping communities and institutions better prepare for and recover from disasters. This initiative convenes coding challenges around the world and puts the best solutions into practice.


On how technology can change the world: What projects, programs are you most proud of in the work our companies are doing to change the world?


DeLisa: Now in its fifth year, the Women in Open Source Awards were created and sponsored by Red Hat to honor women who make important contributions to open source projects and communities, or those making innovative use of open source methodology. With the WiOS Awards, we seek to recognize the contributions women are making and inspire a new generation to join the open source movement.

At Red Hat we think it’s incredibly important to foster diversity and inclusion in tech. We recognize that a diverse, inclusive organization is an organization that’s more innovative: It can see more angles on potential problems, speak more readily to the complexity of those problems, imagine more intelligent and multi-faceted solutions, and spot the biases in what they’re creating. It’s also an organization that’s harder to disrupt: Enlisting diverse perspectives means focusing additional sets of uniquely-trained eyes on the horizon, scanning for what may lie ahead.


Guillermo: There are too many to name. I’ll highlight two.

Artificial intelligence and machine learning are being used in many important applications across society and business. Addressing issues of bias and fairness in these systems is essential.

Created by IBM Research, AI Fairness 360 is a comprehensive open source toolkit to help researchers and developers detect, understand, and mitigate unwanted algorithmic bias in data sets and machine learning models throughout the AI application lifecycle.

Another example is the IBM Food Trust. The IBM Food Trust’s goal is to help make the world’s food supply safer. This is the leading blockchain solution for transparency and traceability within the global food supply chain. More than 50 companies have signed on to work with us so far.

Using IBM blockchain technology running on the IBM Cloud, the Food Trust connects growers, processors, distributors and retailers through a permissioned, permanent and shared record of food-system data that can drastically cut the time needed to trace produce from farm to store, or inform a consumer on where their food came from. In a pilot program, tracing time was reduced from almost seven days to just 2.2 seconds.

I could go on. From disaster recovery, to recycling plastics, to helping cancer patients, to reinventing education, IBM is using its tech for good in a variety of applications all around the world.


About the authors: DeLisa Alexander is Red Hat’s Executive Vice President and Chief People Officer. Guillermo Miranda is IBM’s Vice President and Global Head of Corporate Citizenship and Corporate Social Responsibility.