Magazine article Management Review

A World of Blue

Magazine article Management Review

A World of Blue

Article excerpt

IBM is the epitome of corporate America and IBM is synonymous with big. The company boasts a current domestic workforce of 205,000, with another 168,000 employed overseas.

IBM also is synonymous with quality. The Selectric typewriter, System/360 and PC microcomputer are all IBM products that, in their time, became industry benchmarks. And IBM has been an exemplar in human resources management for three generations. Back in the Roaring Twenties, IBM CEO Thomas J. Watson Sr. developed one of the first professionally trained salesforces in the world. In the 50s, long before it became fashionable, IBM was a trendsetter in equal employment opportunities: "It is the policy of this organization to hire people who have the personality, talent and background necessary to fill a given job, regardless of race, color or creed," then-CEO Thomas Watson Jr. stated in a corporate memo that predated Brown vs. the Board of Education, the landmark 1954 civil rights Supreme Court case, by six months.

There verbiage? Hardly. When it comes to supporting its people, IBM is well known for putting its money where its mouth is. The corporation spends more than $16,000 on human resources programs per employee, and that money is not tied to immediate financial return. "I have no budget. Our senior management accepts ... the need to provide programs to our employees," Ted Childs, the man responsible for IBM's affirmative action initiatives, told Management Review when interviewed for the special section that starts on page 10. …

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