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2011 IBM Corporate Responsibility Report
Introduction by Ginni Rometty, President and CEO
The measure of any enterprise or institution is not what it says about itself, but what others say about it, and whether they choose to affiliate with it—as employees, as clients, as investors, as neighbors, as fellow global citizens.
The measure of any enterprise or institution is not what it says about itself, but what others say about it, and whether they choose to affiliate with it—as employees, as clients, as investors, as neighbors, as partners, as fellow global citizens.

Over the past several months, I have met with thousands of IBMers and hundreds of leaders from government, communities and businesses around the world. As I began my tenure as IBM’s CEO, I wanted to hear their concerns and perspectives. Most importantly, I wanted to hear their aspirations—for themselves, for our world, and for IBM.

What have struck me most powerfully in these conversations are two related beliefs—about this moment in history, and about IBM itself.

First was the belief that despite the present troubles of the world’s economy, the potential for a bright future, characterized by sustained prosperity and societal progress, is within our grasp. Second, I found a widespread belief that as IBM enters its second century, it possesses unique capabilities—in technology, in business expertise and most importantly, in a deep and systemic understanding of global citizenship—to lead the world in making that potential real.

It is inspiring to hear that so many inside and outside the company believe IBM performs this distinctive role, and are eager to work together to see it succeed. Along with my colleagues, I believe we have not just an opportunity, but a responsibility to do so.

This shared belief in a higher purpose reaffirms aspirations and values that have been at the core of this enterprise since its inception, more than a century ago. These never change. But they are being reanimated and redirected today thanks to a radically new era in technology—the emergence of new tools and ways of working that can make our world more sustainable, efficient, equitable and intelligent.

Capturing this historic opportunity will, without question, be a challenge. Most crucially, it will be necessary for all sectors of civil society to break free from old definitions, and to assume new kinds of responsibility.

Business, in particular, must seize the initiative. We must not wait for government mandates. We must be active in convening all sectors of society to solve problems that none can solve on their own. We must energize our own resources—not just financial, but also human. Most crucially, we must create corporate citizenship and business strategies that are not merely “linked,” but one.

In this report, you will find rich evidence of all these dimensions of IBMers' progress in assuming this role. You will see it in our work in communities around the world, on the environment, on our global supply chain, on corporate governance and on our workforce policies and practices.

  • You will read about IBMers helping to build the smarter cities of our rapidly urbanizing planet, through such efforts as the Smarter Cities Challenge, which has provided $50 million in competitive grants to send teams of our talented IBMers to help transform 100 cities around the world.
  • You will read about IBMers helping to re-imagine education, as with the innovative P-TECH high school in Brooklyn, NY. This breakthrough six-year model is already spreading to other cities and influencing the national debate.
  • You will read about the more than 300,000 IBMers who took part in 2011’s Centennial Celebration of Service, resulting in 3.2 million hours of community-based service in 120 countries.
  • And you will read about Corporate Service Corps, deploying teams of high-potential IBMers in developing markets in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe to make communities smarter and more sustainable, while deepening the global skills of IBM's future leaders.

Building a Smarter Planet, it turns out, requires building a new kind of corporation. And that will not happen overnight. But the game-changing progress described in this report gives me confidence that it is achievable. As we have for 100 years—and counting—IBMers, our partners and the communities we serve are still, together, dedicated to making our world literally work better.

Signature - Ginni Rometty
Virginia M. Rometty

President and Chief Executive Officer