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IBM-EMEA encourages discussions on diversity through work groups

2. Human Rights

Diversity, equal opportunity, and fighting discrimination


Diversity has been part of IBM’s history ever since the company was founded. In 1953, anticipating legal decisions on segregation, Thomas J. Watson, who was then the President of IBM, launched the first policy on equal opportunities - the first commitment in a long series leading to the introduction of the Policy on Diversity and Inclusion in 1996.


IBM knows that diversity generates different opinions and points of view, which represents a competitive edge. So IBM ensures that diversity is represented at all grades.


Employees - the power to make suggestions

The solution worked out by IBM EMEA was to set up “work groups” to manage diversity. Work groups are in charge of assessing issues assigned to them; they suggest ideas, action plans, and initiate and monitor them. Work groups were created for each diversity-related issue - women, persons with handicaps, homosexuals, cultural diversity.

IBM gives each employee the opportunity of taking part in a work group. Each group includes 10 to 20 persons interested in the issue, though not  necessarily emotionally involved - e.g., the work group on “Homosexuals” is not just made up of homosexual employees and men take part in the work group on “women”.

Good ideas feedback

Besides, two executive officers take part in each group - they coordinate focus groups and defend ideas from the groups with their colleagues from Management. They will initiate or facilitate actions as the case may be. The Diversity Board, chaired by the General Manager of EMEA, approves the action plan and follow-up reports.


  • Information flows are smoother in the organisation. Members of each work group gain recognition throughout the group, and the outcome from work is accepted by employees and Management.
  •  As IBM customers are increasingly diverse, the diversity of employees enables IBM to better meet its customers’ requirements.


  •  IBM leads concrete actions, the purpose of which is to attract, take on and make loyal all talents, without any other distinction criteria than skills, know-how and engagement.
United States

Mise à jour le 24/05/2016

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