Skip to main content

Chairman’s Letter

A commitment to corporate responsibility pervades IBM, from new hires to the chairman’s office. In this year’s letter, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer Sam Palmisano describes IBM’s long-term approach to corporate responsibility, and the IBMers that make it possible.

IBM’s Approach

Through the years, IBM has consistently expanded the definition of corporate citizenship, pushing the boundaries of what is required to be considered a responsible enterprise. In this section of IBM’s 2010 Corporate Responsibility Report, you will find more detail on our approach to corporate responsibility, and some examples of how that approach manifested itself during the past year.


At IBM we engage with communities around the world by offering our technology, services and expertise to help solve some of the world’s most complex problems. While the monetary value of these contributions is great, we eschew checkbook philanthropy whenever possible. We believe that this approach is the most efficient, effective and sustainable way to practice good corporate citizenship. And we believe it is helping to make the world work better. In this section of IBM’s 2010 Corporate Responsibility Report, you will find examples of the contributions IBM made to the global community this past year.

The IBMer

For the last 100 years, IBM has pioneered innovative approaches to hiring, managing and retaining our work force. From some of the earliest thinking on work force diversity to progressive programs for employee well-being and leadership development, this ongoing commitment to our employees is critical to the success of IBM and IBMers. And as the nature of our business changes, we will continue to apply the same innovation and creativity we use to develop products and services to our relationship with employees. In this section of IBM’s 2010 Corporate Responsibility Report, you will find examples of the commitments IBM made to its work force this past year.


IBM has long maintained an unwavering commitment to environmental protection, which was formalized by a corporate environmental policy in 1971. The policy calls for IBM to be an environmental leader across all of our business activities, from our research, operations and products to the services and solutions we provide our clients to help them be more protective of the environment. Download this section of the report (2.2MB)

Supply Chain

IBM manages a supply chain of more than 27,000 suppliers in nearly 100 different countries. We understand that managing a supply chain of this size carries with it considerable social responsibility. Even so, we are continually expanding the definition of what it means to run a responsible supply chain, challenging ourselves and our suppliers to reach ever higher standards of social and environmental compliance. In this section of IBM’s 2010 Corporate Responsibility Report, you will find examples of IBM’s supply chain responsibility efforts over the past year.

Ethics and Integrity

Both the size and nature of IBM’s business necessitate that it adhere to the highest standards of conduct. IBM employs more than 400,000 employees, and provides services and technology that support businesses, governments, schools, hospitals and highways. As such, integrity, transparency, privacy and risk management are all crucial parts of our business, and our commitment to making the world work better. In this section of IBM’s 2010 Corporate Responsibility Report, you will find examples of how IBM is setting the modern standard for business ethics.


For the last 100 years, IBM has deeply understood the importance of education at all levels, from early childhood through graduate studies. The company recognizes the positive effects that education can have on the social and economic conditions in a community. And of course, IBM itself relies on a highly educated and skilled workforce.

Over the years, IBM has identified specific challenges at every step of the education process, from improving the quality of early childhood education to developing more and better teachers throughout the world. This commitment has yielded a portfolio of long-running education programs that continues to grow and improve every year. And as educational needs change, we continue to search for new programs that can address those needs.

One example of a new initiative from 2010 is a unique school that IBM is developing in collaboration with the New York City Department of Education, the City University of New York and New York City College of Technology. Announced in September 2010 and slated to open in September 2011, the new school, called Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH), will be the first of many new, innovative public schools spanning high school through an associate degree. The mission is to provide students with the individualized instruction that will enable them to master the skills and knowledge they need to either graduate with an associate degree that will enable them to secure entry-level positions in the information technology industry, or to continue and complete study in a four-year higher education institution.

The broader goal is to apply the knowledge and experiences developed in the pilot school to serve as a model for use by other traditional high schools in New York City and nationally. This school will be the first in a series and a demonstration of how K–12, higher education and public/private collaboration can substantially raise graduation rates, prepare a greater number of students to fill good-paying jobs in IT or other fields, and enable more students to successfully pursue postsecondary education. For more information, visit

Below are a few of the other long-running educational programs in which IBM continues to invest:

Pathways in Technology Early College High School Pathways in Technology Early College
High School

P-TECH in New York City provides students the opportunity to earn an associate degree—providing students a direct route to an IT career.

KidSmart Early Learning Program

The IBM KidSmart Early Learning Program integrates new interactive teaching and learning activities using the latest technology into the pre-kindergarten curriculum. IBM’s KidSmart program includes the Young Explorer, a computer housed in brightly colored, child-friendly Little Tikes furniture and equipped with award-winning educational software to help children learn and explore concepts in math, science and language. Since the inception of the KidSmart Early Learning Program in 1998, IBM has donated more than 50,000 Young Explorers to schools and not-for-profit organizations in 60 countries, reaching more than 100,000 teachers and serving more than 10 million students.

Some examples of how the KidSmart program is being integrated successfully in school curricula include Hong Kong, where IBM collaborated with the Office for the Development of the Energy Sector in the Macao Special Administrative Region Government. There, IBM incorporated the region’s environmental education curriculum, part of a national agenda in promoting energy savings, in the KidSmart program. And in Poland, the Ministry of Education has financed the creation of an online community for KidSmart teachers that links to the newly translated Polish version of the KidSmart Web site. Through this platform, teachers can exchange best practices and ideas on how to use the Young Explorers to promote children’s development and learning.

10 million

students have been served by
IBM’s KidSmart Early Learning
Program since 1998.

Reading Companion

It is well-known that literacy is a key contributor to the competitiveness and economic growth of any region. Launched more than a decade ago, Reading Companion® is IBM’s Web-based literacy initiative that uses voice recognition technology to help children and adults to learn to read. The software listens as students read words and phrases that appear on the screen, correcting pronunciation as needed and encouraging students along the way.

Reading Companion provides a private, unintimidating setting in which to learn, and is currently being used in more than 2,100 schools and nonprofit organizations—about half of which are schools—in 36 countries. Approximately 85,000 users are participating in this grant program.

Some examples of key relationships include projects with Colombia, where IBM is working with Fundación Empresas Publicas de Medellin and the American Colombo Center in Medellin to implement a bilingual project called English Net, which includes schools and 35 libraries in the city and its surroundings. Reading Companion is bringing together IBM volunteers, librarians and teachers in promoting English learning that will benefit at least 1,500 learners in its first year alone. Also, the Leonardo da Vinci project in Turkey will bring vocational high schools from eight European Union countries together over two years to create an online glossary using Reading Companion’s Book Builder feature to help students learn English vocabulary for the workplace. The Book Builder functionality in Reading Companion allows schools and not-for-profit organizations to create original e-books on topics that are of interest to local readers, and add to Reading Companion’s existing virtual library of more than 200 online books for children and adults.


countries are currently taking advantage of IBM’s Reading Companion to help 85,000 people learn to read.


¡TradúceloAhora! (TranslateNow!) is IBM’s real-time bidirectional translation technology initiative. Keeping parents actively engaged in their children’s schoolwork is critical to academic success. Using IBM’s WebSphere® Translation Server software to translate Web sites, e-mails and instant online communications from English to Spanish (and vice versa), ¡TradúceloAhora! allows Spanish-speaking parents of school children to better communicate with their children’s English-speaking teachers. The automatic translation program is also helping thousands of users find much-needed information on the Web on health services, job searches and more. To date, nearly 4,500 users in 1,000 organizations—about one-third of which are schools—are participating in this grant program in the U.S., Colombia, Peru and Mexico. Nearly 4,300 Web pages are translated each month.

According to the principal of the Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders (Austin, Texas), “With the ¡TradúceloAhora! software, I am able to open the doors of communication with our Spanish-speaking parents. When the software translates our many e-mail announcements to Spanish, we are able to inform and include all members of our family. Never should there be barriers of any kind that prevent parents from being active participants in the school life of their children. ¡TradúceloAhora! affords us that opportunity to remove a language barrier. We are grateful to IBM for always striving to make the world a smarter place.”


Web pages are translated each
month by ¡TradúceloAhora!


Science is the key to innovation. But engaging young students in science and math has become increasingly difficult in some parts of the world, a trend that is of concern to IBM on multiple levels. To address this, IBM has several programs to spur interest in these critical subject areas., a collaboration among IBM, the New York Hall of Science and the almost 600 museums of the Association of Science-Technology Centers, is an online resource that allows children, as well as their teachers and parents, to interactively experience engaging and fun science projects and science museums around the world. The site has received millions of visitors since its launch in 1998.

IBM Technology Camps

IBM Technology Camps around the world are designed to foster a new generation of scientists and engineers and encourage the thousands of young people who have participated in these programs to pursue careers in math, science and engineering. The number of jobs requiring science and math skills is exploding. From May through November, programs are held across the United States, Asia, Latin America, Europe and Africa for middle school age girls taking part in IBM’s EX.I.T.E. (EXploring Interests in Technology and Engineering) Camps; boys and girls involved in the company’s IGN.I.T.E. (IGNiting Interest in Technology and Engineering) programs; and people with disabilities participating in IBM’s S.T.E.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) EntryPoint workshops. Beginning with the first EX.I.T.E. Camp in 1999, more than 10,000 young people have taken part in IBM Technology Camps.

S.T.E.M. Entry Point

IBM Technology Camps like S.T.E.M. EntryPoint have helped promote careers in science, technology, engineering and math to more than 10,000 young people across the world.

Transition to Teaching

Transition to Teaching is an extension of IBM’s work in education and community service. Since 2006, IBM has enabled its employees to become fully accredited teachers in their local communities by supporting our mature workers who are interested in a second career in teaching. Transition to Teaching provides employees with guidance and funding to help them transition into teaching as their next career move, while still working at IBM. IBM was the first company to provide its employees with this kind of opportunity to pursue a second career as a K–12 math and science teacher.

Acknowledging that a shift in vocation takes time and training, the Transition to Teaching initiative helps underwrite the costs while employees pursue the education and training experiences required for teacher certification—combining traditional coursework, online courses and practice teaching. Employees are able to choose the best certification program that meets their needs so they can get the necessary education courses as well as assistance during the student teaching period. Today, more than 100 IBM employees are participating in the Transition to Teaching program, and 31 graduates have already completed their teacher certification and are teaching in classrooms or teaching online courses in the United States.

IBM has learned a lot about the critical path to a second career in teaching and has shared its perspective with other companies as well as the education community to expand the conversation on successful pathways to developing a talent pipeline for K–12 science, technology, engineering and math teachers. This year IBM provided its lessons learned and experience with teacher training and certification to the U.S. Department of Education and several national programs engaged with teacher recruitment and education.


IBM employees are exploring a second career in education via IBM’s Transition to Teaching program.

University Relations

Over the 100 years of IBM’s history, the academic community has been a critical partner to the company. We believe that higher learning is central to the advancement of our company, and civilization in general.

That’s why IBM works with more than 6,000 universities around the world on a number of levels: we conduct collaborative research and development; we provide grants and donations; we inform curriculum to help develop the next generation of science and technology innovators; and more.

In 2010, IBM gave more than $100 million to universities around the world. These contributions came in the form of academic initiatives, matching grants, fellowship awards and other educational grants. One example from March 2010 is a $7.6 million Shared University Research award that established a new high-performance computing (HPC) initiative for biomedical and life sciences research at the Texas Medical Center. Scientists from Rice University will use the supercomputer in collaboration with researchers from the medical center to study cancer, AIDS and other complex diseases.

$100 million

in contributions to universities around the world in 2010.

Software for a Cause

IBM also initiated a number of innovative programs for the university community in 2010. For example, IBM realizes the next generation of innovators will be those who can work effectively in distributed team projects. Through the IBM Open Collaborative Research program, researchers from IBM, McGill University and the University of British Columbia investigated together how to motivate students to work on team projects.

The result was Software for a Cause, a special project plan that can be integrated into a university level software engineering course. In a pilot of the program conducted in the fall of 2010, student teams at different universities developed a software application for a charitable organization using cutting-edge technologies. The distributed student teams leveraged the IBM Rational Team Concert service offered by Marist College to build the application. The team worked with Cystic Fibrosis Canada to create a Facebook application that could better connect their community. Lessons learned and ideas from the pilot are being expanded upon by the IBM GBS University Delivery Services program, which reaches out to a worldwide network of universities.


IBM worked with eight different universities to help develop the technology behind Watson, the IBM supercomputer that competed and won a contest of the popular television game show Jeopardy! in early 2011. Those universities include Carnegie Mellon University, University of Albany, Universita Degli Studi Di Trento, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, University of Massachusetts Amherst, University of Southern California and University of Texas.

On the nights of Watson’s Jeopardy! appearance, IBM hosted more than 60 “Watch Events” at those and other universities in the U.S. More than 11,000 students attended these events, with overflow crowds at many venues, watching Watson’s natural language processing and deep analytics triumph over two former Jeopardy! grand champions.

“It was an honor to be involved,” said Catherine Copetas, Assistant Dean, Carnegie Mellon University. “And the follow-up with students has been quite astounding. Watson impressed us all with his powerful brain and has the students thinking and talking about the week. What could be better? When students/faculty/staff applaud a machine and its accomplishments, you truly have achieved something powerful. It’s clear: Watson struck an intellectual nerve. Thanks to all our friends at IBM for … some seriously fantastic science. Perhaps we should add to Watson’s credentials that he brings scientists and all people (back) together.”

Icon of Progress: A Computer Called Watson Icon of Progress: A Computer Called Watson

See how IBM’s Deep QA software is changing the way we communicate with computers.