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IBM Human Rights Statement of Principles

IBM is committed to high standards of corporate responsibility. Our definition of corporate responsibility includes environmental responsibility, as well as social concerns for our workforce, clients, business partners, and the communities where we operate.

Underpinning our corporate responsibility standards and practices is our dedication to respect human rights. IBM's stance on human rights is informed by international standards, including the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, and the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

IBM has a strong culture of ethics and integrity, guided by a rigorous system of corporate governance that promotes transparency on a global basis and compliance with all applicable laws and regulations where we do business.


Throughout its history, IBM has taken a thoughtful, comprehensive approach to corporate responsibility that is based on IBM's values and takes into account four areas of impact that are of particular interest to our stakeholders, i.e. support of our employees and communities; the impact of IBM's products and operations on the environment; the management of our global supply chain: and, the governance, ethics, and integrity of our company.

IBM's approach recognizes our vast network of stakeholders and the understanding that our work can impact not only our business success, but also the efficiency and innovation of countries, cities, governments, communities, and our planet's critical infrastructure.

We strive to maximize IBM's positive impact as a global enterprise in a number of ways: we identify and act upon new opportunities to apply our technology and expertise to societal problems; we scale our existing corporate responsibility programs and initiatives to help achieve maximum benefit; we empower our employees and others to serve their communities: and, we integrate corporate citizenship and our respect for human rights throughout our company.

We focus our engagement and programs on specific societal issues, including community economic development, education, health, literacy, language and culture. These are areas of basic human and wider societal needs where we can apply IBM's technology and talent to help solve problems and to contribute to the advancement of human rights.


IBM's Business Conduct Guidelines (BCGs) serve as our global code of conduct for IBM employees, and reflect our longstanding commitment to high ethical conduct and decision-making. They specify IBM's standards of business ethics, basic values and principles.

The BCGs are complemented by formal corporate directives that govern our companywide actions. Their intent is to express clear direction on the things that are fundamental and therefore most enduring in our business. In addition to guiding action in specific areas such as environmental affairs or data privacy, our corporate policies also include a set of Global Employment Standards.

IBM Global Employment Standards

These principles apply to IBM employees and are explained more fully on our "Responsibility at IBM" webpage. We expect our managers and employees to comply fully with these Standards.

The Global Employment Standards address areas that are important to human rights and include among others the commitment that IBM:

  • will not use forced or child labor
  • will comply at a minimum with all applicable wage and hour laws and regulations
  • will comply with legal limits to working time
  • will create a work environment free of discrimination or harassment and will treat all employees with respect and dignity
  • will respect the legal rights of its employees to join (or not) worker organizations, including labor organizations or trade unions

IBM strives to establish favorable employment conditions, to promote positive relationships between employees and managers, to facilitate employee communications, and to support employee development.

We train our employees and we perform regular business reviews to confirm compliance to our policies, practices and procedures. For example, periodically, usually each year, IBM employees are required to formally certify to the BCG and complete online, interactive training.

Working with partners and suppliers

Working with third parties is an integral part of IBM's business in meeting the needs of our clients. IBM's Business Partner Code of Conduct describes the minimum standards of business conduct and practices we expect from our business partners, for example, that employees are provided with a work environment free of coercion, discrimination, and harassment. If applicable laws and regulations are more permissive than this Code of Conduct, business partners are expected to comply with the IBM Code of Conduct. As appropriate, IBM provides business partners with online, and in some instances live, training on ethics and integrity.

For our supply chain relationships, IBM uses the Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition (EICC) Code of Conduct (hereby called the EICC Code) as a single code for our global supply base. The EICC Code establishes the standards we expect from our suppliers in doing business with IBM across several areas of social responsibility, including labor, health, safety, protection of the environment, ethics, and management systems. Our goal is to work with our suppliers to foster their full compliance to the EICC Code and we expect them to cascade these standards to their extended sources of supply engaged in the production of goods and services for IBM. We consider these standards in our supplier selection process and monitor ongoing performance, as needed, by periodic third party supplier compliance audits. IBM reserves the right to take action with suppliers that do not comply with the EICC Code and may consider measures such as reducing or ending business in accordance with contract terms.

Communication and Concerns & Appeals Mechanisms and Channels

IBM makes available to all employees open communications channels for suggestions and complaints to management; IBM also maintains a channel for contact with the management for employee complaints, including any form of harassment including sexual harassment, and a channel to raise concerns anonymously. IBM does not tolerate threats or acts of retaliation against any employee for reporting a concern or suspected violation. Additional communication channels are available for suppliers, business partners, and others to report concerns or suspected violations to the company, including ways for submitting anonymous reports.


IBM senior management is ultimately responsible for our economic, environmental, and social corporate responsibility programs and progress, including our dedication to human rights, as well as our adherence to IBM's overall compliance programs. The IBM Board and our CEO annually review IBM's corporate responsibility programs and progress. Our dedication to corporate responsibility is fostered throughout the company and integrated across the business through the following forums.

Corporate Responsibility Executive Steering Committee and Working Group

Our Corporate Responsibility Executive Steering Committee comprises senior executives from functional areas across the business and is chaired by IBM's Vice President for Corporate Citizenship and Corporate Affairs. The committee meets periodically to provide leadership and direction on key human rights and corporate responsibility issues. Each functional area is responsible for the development of its own goals and strategy, with organization-wide goals approved by the steering committee.

Our Corporate Responsibility Working Group consists of representatives from functional areas (including global representation) and meets regularly to manage IBM's human rights and corporate responsibility activities and stakeholder engagement. The working group reviews key standards and strategic issues in the area of corporate responsibility and human rights and makes recommendations to the steering committee throughout the year.

Stakeholder engagement and reporting

IBM actively works with stakeholders who examine and influence our human rights and corporate responsibility programs and practices. We view stakeholder engagement as much more than communications and consultation. For us, it is about business engagement and collaboration—working shoulder-to-shoulder with communities, governments, investors, and the social sector. We work closely together with organizations that are taking similarly innovative, global, open, and collaborative approaches to corporate citizenship and sustainability.

We publicly report on our corporate responsibility initiatives and progress through our annual corporate responsibility report, additional GRI reports, and specific ad-hoc publications on particular areas such as diversity and equal opportunity.