IBM’s Message to Employees on Texas Bathroom Bills

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Austin, Texas – Diane Gherson, IBM’s Senior Vice President for Human Resources, posted the following message to all IBMers outlining the company’s opposition to proposed legislation in Texas that would discriminate against the LGBT+ community.

July 17, 2017

IBM Community,

This week, I’ll be traveling to Austin, Texas with IBM Chief Diversity Officer Lindsay-Rae McIntyre and nearly 20 IBM leaders—the majority of whom are Texans–to voice IBM’s longstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion.

IBM rainbow 8-bar logo

Logo showing IBM’s commitment to diversity and equality.

Why Texas? And why now? On July 18th, the Texas legislature will start a thirty-day special session, where it is likely some will try to advance a discriminatory “bathroom bill” similar to the one that passed in North Carolina last year.

It is our goal to convince Texas elected officials to abandon these efforts.

IBM wrote its first Equal Opportunity policy in 1953—a decade before the Civil Rights Act was enacted. We were one of the first companies to include sexual orientation in that policy over thirty years ago, and have stood up to ensure that LGBT IBMers across the globe can live and work free from discrimination in any form.

A Texas bathroom bill stands squarely against these deep-rooted IBM values.

A bathroom bill like the one in Texas sends a message that it is okay to discriminate against someone just for being who they are. It threatens IBM’s ability to bring the best and brightest to our Texas workforce—a community that is now over 10,000 strong and represents a diversity of perspectives, backgrounds and experiences.

This bathroom bill also undermines IBM’s goal of bringing more people into New Collar job opportunities—a top company priority. Through partnerships with local high schools and community colleges, we’ve been able to support over 100 P-TECH schools that have created 21st century skills education programs. In May, Texas signed on as the latest state to fund its own P-TECH program.

A bathroom bill could target LGBT youth and students attending such schools—and every other public educational institution across Texas. We will strongly oppose legislation that would marginalize any current or future IBMer.

That’s why we are heading to Texas to engage directly with government officials on this bill.

I am proud of IBM’s leadership in the push for diversity and inclusion and thank all of you in the IBM community for living these values each and every day.

I look forward to reporting back on our work in Texas and on our broader efforts to ensure that diversity remains central to IBM’s company values and culture.

Sincerely,
Diane Gherson
Senior Vice President, Human Resources

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Media Contact:
Rachel Thomas
rachel.r.thomas@ibm.com

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