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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.

Leadership Development

IBM has a long history of innovative leadership development programs. From cultural adaptability to cross-discipline mentoring, IBM believes that developing leadership qualities is good for employees, IBM and the world.

Basic Blue for IBM Leaders, Shades of Blue, the Accelerate Executive Leaders (AccEL) program for new executives and Executive Insights for newly hired or acquired executives are just a few examples. And in 2010, IBM continued to invest in its latest leadership development initiative, Global Enablement Teams (GET), with a decision to focus specifically on growth market countries.

GET teams were originally launched as a pilot in 2008 in nine countries, representing a mix of developed and developing economies. In each country, a team of four or five senior executives from around the world build relationships with the country general manager and the country leadership team. The goal is to enable the country leaders to advance IBM’s strategic focus within the country by leveraging the knowledge, expertise and networks of the GET members. To accomplish this, the GET team members work with the country leaders to develop or enhance relations with local government officials, clients, academics and other influential figures and to determine what issues are important in that country. The GET members then help the country general manager and the local teams make the most of our globally integrated enterprise to support the country in addressing those issues.

To put those ideas into action, GET members make short, but intense, visits to their adopted markets. To get an idea of how intense, consider that the Nigeria team had 25 meetings in two days. These visits help IBM align our business strategy with the national agenda, which opens new opportunities and builds goodwill by helping a country meet its greatest challenges. In the process, team members learn a great deal about a country, its society and its business. But the ultimate aim of the program is to enhance and accelerate development of a new generation of business leaders that possess truly global mindsets and display high degrees of cultural adaptability.

In 2010, the program was expanded by four countries and in 2011 to a total of 18 countries, including the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Vietnam, Thailand, the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, South Africa, Nigeria, Argentina, Chile, Colombia and Mexico. So far, the country leaders have reported that they believe the GET program is helping to accelerate their efforts to grow IBM’s market access in their countries. They believe that the greatest benefits are coming from team members’ ability to help them to gain access to resources and expertise throughout IBM and to develop the capabilities of the leadership team. The GET members report that the experience is helping them develop broader enterprise leadership capabilities and cultural adaptability.

Developing Global Leadership

Discover how Global Enablement Teams help solve problems in emerging markets by leveraging the power of the globally integrated enterprise.