IT Management: IBM and Black History: Innovation Through Diversity
IBM celebrates its 100th anniversary this year, and in that 100 years, the company known as Big Blue has been a strong advocate for equal opportunity. Indeed, IBM began pushing for equal opportunity and promoting African-American interests in the 1940s when the company donated money to the United Negro College Fund and hired its first black salesmana coveted white-collar position. Not only was IBM a pioneer in the tech world in terms of hiring and promoting blacks, but also Big Blue's efforts in this area preceded most of corporate America. In the early 1950s, IBM CEO Thomas J. Watson Jr. made it a company policy to hire people based on their ability, regardless of race, color or creed. And he did so before key Supreme Court decisions and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prompted other companies to follow suit. Early on, Watson saw what leaders like current IBM CEO Samuel J. Palmisano and Microsoft founder and former CEO Bill Gates have called on the government for help with todaythe need for the IT industry to find qualified people and to get them wherever they are. The difference is that back then, the issue was integration. Today, it is immigration. As this slide show will attest, IBM has a rich history of diversity, and as February is Black History Month, eWEEK is taking this opportunity to single out IBM, both for its centennial as well as for its contributions to Black History.