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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 force effort 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."

-- Professor David Thomas
Harvard Business School

Diversity as Strategy - Harvard Business Review

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 four.

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.

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