International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) was founded in the United States in 1911. The company provides software, hardware, and IT and consulting services. IBM operates in more than 175 countries, offering cloud services through 60 data centres. IBM Research has a dozen labs across the world.
IBM supports digital opportunities for girls through its STEM for Girls initiative in India and runs similar programmes in eight other countries. The company adheres to internationally recognised design principles to increase product accessibility for people with disabilities. It also provided additional accommodation for its employees with disabilities working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Through IBM Skills Academy, the company provides ‘train the trainer’ sessions to faculty members, to help empower college and university students acquire high-demand technology skills. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the company launched the Reigniting Small Business programme to help job seekers pursue new careers in technology and help business owners gain skills to relaunch their businesses. IBM’s Pathways for Technology (P-TECH) programme teaches coding skills to high school students from underserved backgrounds in various countries and reports its impact.
IBM follows industry norms for internal cybersecurity practices, with senior-level oversight of cybersecurity. It has a security incident response team and follows industry best practice by disclosing its international certification for information security management. IBM’s annual transparency report discloses details on the number of government demands for data it receives by country.
IBM follows industry best practice by supporting open innovation as a member of standards bodies, providing a statement of commitment to open source initiatives, and sharing source code. It also uses the SDG framework to measure its sustainability goals and progress and discloses its greenhouse gas emissions data. The company demonstrates inclusive and ethical innovation by developing principles for AI trust and transparency that include human rights. The company also has research and development (R&D) facilities in multiple countries and has established an AI Ethics Board. It also reports the number of women in technical roles at the company.
No evidence was found on IBM’s efforts to make digital technologies available and affordable for vulnerable and underrepresented groups. The company has the opportunity to strengthen its commitment to accessibility in its workplace by disclosing the number of employees with disabilities. While IBM discloses its community investments, there is an opportunity for the company to also disclose how the economic value it generates is distributed among stakeholders, as well as the income taxes it pays and employment in its main markets.
IBM has the opportunity to improve its disclosure by reporting the number of data breaches it experiences. While the company has some educational initiatives around child online safety, it can make a high-level commitment to child online protection.
IBM commits to respecting human rights, but has made no public commitment to respect all the labour fundamentals outlined by the ILO core labour rights, including the right to freedom of association and collective bargaining. The company requires suppliers to comply with the Responsible Business Alliance Code of Conduct. However, it does not disclose a process to identify, assess and take action on salient human rights risks in its own operations and in its supply chain. IBM has a grievance mechanism to raise human rights concerns and complaints, but it is unclear if all stakeholders can use it. It is also unclear whether complainants can choose to identify themselves or remain anonymous.
IBM publicly commits to respecting the health and safety of workers, and it places health and safety expectations on its business relationships and monitors their performance. However, the company lacks relevant disclosure in reference to living wages and collective bargaining. For example, the company does not state that it provides support to its business relationships to help them pay their workers living wages and uphold collective bargaining. In reference to working hours, the company states that it does not require workers to work more than 60 hours a week including overtime. However, it does not state that workers shall not be required to work more than 48 hours in a regular week.
IBM has a global tax strategy. The company discloses the income taxes it pays in three categories: US federal, US state and local, and non-US. However, it does not disclose income tax payments for all its individual tax jurisdictions. The company has a policy prohibiting bribery and corruption, and it includes anti-bribery and anti-corruption clauses in contracts with its business relationships. IBM also discloses its approach to lobbying and political engagement in a publicly available policy statement, which includes a statement that it will not make political contributions.