International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) was founded in the US 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. Additionally, IBM Research, the R&D division of the company, has a dozen labs across the world.
IBM supports science, technology, engineering and mathematics education 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 and also works on creating an inclusive workplace for its employees with disabilities.
Through the IBM Skills Academy, the company provides ‘train the trainer’ sessions to faculty members, to help college and university students acquire high-demand technology skills. Further, IBM’s Pathways in 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 and best practice by implementing senior-level oversight of cybersecurity, having a security incident response team and disclosing its international certification for information security management. Additionally, 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 set its own sustainability goals and measure progress and discloses its greenhouse gas (GHG) 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. Furthermore, it reports the number of its women employees in tech roles.
No evidence was found on IBM’s efforts to make digital technologies available and affordable for vulnerable and underrepresented groups. 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 its employment in its main markets.
IBM has the opportunity to improve its disclosure in the area of use by reporting the number of data breaches it experiences. While the company has some educational initiatives around child online safety, it should also make a high-level commitment to child online safety.
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 rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining. The company requires suppliers to comply with the Responsible Business Alliance Code of Conduct. While the company discloses its salient human rights issues, it does not disclose a process to identify, assess and act 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 and whether complainants can choose to remain anonymous.
IBM publicly commits to respecting worker health and safety, 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. 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. Furthermore, 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 its 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 its business relationship contracts. IBM also discloses its approach to lobbying and political engagement in a publicly available policy statement, which also mentions that it will not make political contributions.