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Our Approach to Corporate Responsibility

IBM is a company of more than 430,000 employees, doing business in nearly 170 countries. We manage a supply chain of more than 20,000 suppliers.

We engage a vast network of stakeholders, from clients, to employees, to business partners, to investors. And the work we do impacts not only individual companies’ business success, but the efficiency and innovation of countries, cities, governments, communities and our planet’s critical infrastructure.

We strive to operate our business consistent with the highest standards of corporate responsibility, from how we support and empower our employees, to how we work with our clients, to how we govern the corporation. And we do so because we believe this is how a great company is built and sustained. This document is a brief summary of our efforts in these areas during the 2011 calendar year.

Throughout its history, IBM has taken a thoughtful, comprehensive approach to corporate responsibility that we believe aligns with IBM’s values and maximizes the impact we can make as a global enterprise. We focus on specific societal issues, exploring ways to improve and protect the environment, spurring community economic development, and improving education and healthcare. In each of these areas, we engage by following four guiding principles:

  • We identify and act upon new opportunities to make a difference by applying our technology and expertise to societal problems (P-TECH)
  • We scale our existing programs and initiatives to achieve maximum benefit by measuring our results and adjusting our approaches (Smarter Cities Challenge)
  • We empower our employees and others by building their skills to better serve their communities (Celebration of Service)
  • We integrate our commitment to corporate responsibility into every aspect of our company (Responsibility at IBM website)

This approach favors direct action and collaboration over simple “checkbook philanthropy.” And we believe it is a path to real and lasting change. In all of our community service efforts, as in our business pursuits, we aim to provide leadership, and we insist on excellence and accountability. Whether it’s solving the complex problems of the world’s cities or developing schools that prepare students for careers, we expect to effect widespread, measurable change. And we work closely with highly qualified organizations that are deeply committed to the same outcomes. This is a vital part of our approach to stakeholder engagement: to collaborate with leading organizations to evolve meaningful and sustainable solutions.

This commitment is fostered throughout the company and led by senior management, which is ultimately responsible for our economic, environmental and societal performance, as well as compliance with laws, regulations and our various codes of conduct. The IBM Board of Directors and its committees regularly review performance and compliance.

On a day-to-day basis, our corporate responsibility activities are coordinated by a steering committee made up of executives from all relevant functions across IBM. Its chair is IBM's vice president of Corporate Citizenship & Corporate Affairs, who also serves as president of the IBM International Foundation.