Below is an excerpt from the Diversity
as Strategy article.
"Over the past two years, I have interviewed more
than 50 IBM employees — ranging from midlevel managers
all the way up to Gerstner and Palmisano— about the
task forceeffort and spent a great deal of time
with Ted Childs, IBM's vice president of Global Workforce
Diversity and Gerstner's primary partner in guiding this change
process. What they described was a significant
philosophical shift— from a long tradition of minimizing
differences to amplifying them and to seizing on the business
opportunities they present."
In September 2004, the Harvard
Business Review published an article by David
A. Thomas about the commitment IBM made to workforce diversity.
Below are a few excerpts from the article.
By the time [Lou] Gerstner took the helm in 1993,
IBM already had a long history of progressive management
when it came to civil rights and equal employment. Indeed,
few of the company's executives would have identified
workforce diversity as an area of strategic focus. But
when Gerstner took a look at his senior executive team,
he felt it didn't reflect the diversity of the market
for talent or IBM's customers and employees. To rectify
the imbalance, in 1995 Gerstner launched a diversity task-force
initiative that became a cornerstone of IBM's HR strategy.
Any major corporate change will succeed only
if a few key factors are in place.
Strong support from company leaders, an employee
base that is fully engaged with the initiative, management
practices that are integrated and aligned with the effort,
and a strong and well-articulated business case for
action. IBM's diversity task forces benefited from all
Eight task forces were set up at IBM. Based on
over 2,000 responses from employees, the task forces
focused on the following areas for evaluation and improvement:
communications, staffing, employee benefits, workplace
flexibility, training and education, advertising and
marketplace opportunities, and external relations.