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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.


IBM Senior Management is ultimately responsible for our economic, environmental and social performance, as well as complying with IBM’s overall compliance programs. Corporate responsibility at IBM is integrated across the business through the following two forums:

Corporate Responsibility Steering Committee

Our Corporate Responsibility Steering Committee comprises senior executives from functional areas across the business and is chaired by the vice president for Corporate Citizenship. The Committee meets periodically to provide leadership and direction on key corporate responsibility issues. Each functional area is responsible for the development of its own corporate responsibility goals and strategy, with organizational-wide goals approved by the Steering Committee.

Corporate Responsibility Working Group

Our Corporate Responsibility Working Group consists of representatives from 10 functional areas (including global representation) and meets at least monthly to manage IBM’s corporate responsibility activities, reporting and stakeholder engagement across the company. The Working Group reviews key policy and strategic decisions with the Steering Committee throughout the year.

On a day-to-day basis our activities are coordinated in an organization called Corporate Citizenship & Corporate Affairs, which reports to the senior vice president for Marketing and Communications.

Stakeholder Engagement

At IBM, we view stakeholder engagement as much more than communications and consultation. For us, it is about business partnership and collaboration—working shoulder to shoulder with communities, governments and the social sector.

Here are a couple of examples:

  • Jams, our large-scale electronic conversations, garner stakeholder input and engagement on a scale previously not possible in real time—accelerating the development of new business and societal solutions to problems such as water quality or healthcare. For example, this year we held ServiceJam, which brought together more than 15,000 representatives of not-for-profit organizations, corporations, academic institutions and government agencies in a discussion on how social innovation can help solve our world’s largest problems.
  • We use a variety of social media to help us more deeply engage with our extended IBM workforce and community. This includes our retirees through the IBM On Demand Community, our online system of community engagement, and a range of in-depth social partnerships as we beta test technology breakthroughs with community organizations, teachers, students and parents worldwide.

We also actively seek to work with organizations that are taking similarly innovative, global, open and collaborative approaches to corporate citizenship and sustainability.


representatives from not-for-profit organizations, corporations, academia and government agencies took part in 2010’s ServiceJam.

Our memberships include:

  • AmCham-China CSR Committee
  • Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship (IBM is a Board Member)
  • Business for Social Responsibility
  • China Corporate Citizenship Committee
  • Chinese Federation for Corporate Social Responsibility
  • Confederation of Indian Industry National Committee on CSR
  • CSR Europe (IBM is a Board Member)
  • Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition (IBM is the Chair)
  • European Academy of Business in Society (IBM is a Board Member)
  • Global Leadership Network (IBM is an initiator and founding member)
  • World Business Council for Sustainable Development

Business Conduct Guidelines Refresh

Each year, IBMers demonstrate the importance of trust and personal responsibility in all relationships by reading and certifying IBM’s Business Conduct Guidelines. This year as IBM Corporation celebrates its Centennial and we reflect on our longstanding commitment to ethics and integrity, we refreshed the Business Conduct Guidelines (BCG). The new BCG are built upon the solid fundamental principles that have sustained us and brought us success, but have been refreshed to better fit our dynamic and increasingly complex business.

Designed to be used as an online tool, the new BCG include search functionality and connect IBMers to supporting resources and other essential guidance. The enhanced format includes learning aids, which are designed to help IBMers better understand and apply our fundamental principles in our daily work. These new guidelines were designed to be read more than once a year, a resource all IBMers can use to inform our daily actions and decisions.


In 2010, IBM launched a new global process and tool designed to harmonize and streamline the approval process for client travel, entertainment and business amenities (CTEBA). CTEBA is a set of principles that defines the legal and financial approval requirements for all client travel, entertainment and business amenities provided by IBM, directly or indirectly through third parties.

CTEBA establishes a process for vetting client travel, entertainment or business amenities and confirming that they comply with IBM’s worldwide policies, meet IBM’s own standards of business integrity and operate ethically and lawfully in all matters.

CTEBA is part of a broad portfolio of controls, and is supported by existing IBM corporate instructions and guidelines such as:

  • IBM Business Conduct Guidelines
  • IBM Government Client Guidelines
  • IBM Business Partner Code of Conduct
  • IBM Supplier Conduct Principles/Guidelines
  • Corporate Policy Letter 103—Business Conduct and Ethics