IBM - 50 years of Supplier Diversity

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In 1899, 10 years before the NAACP was formed and 20 years before women could vote, IBM hired three women and one black man. Time after time for the next 100 years, IBM has stepped up and stood up for what is right.

In 1914, IBM hired their first disabled person - 76 years before the Americans with Disabilities Act. In 1935, they declared “equal pay for equal work”, more than a decade before the Civil Rights Act. In 1953, IBM created Policy Letter #4 which states that IBM would hire people based on performance regardless of race, colour or creed. In 1984, IBM became one of the first companies to include sexual orientation as part of its commitment to non-discrimination. In 2005, IBM became the first major corporation in the world to establish a genetics privacy policy.

Now, let’s tell the story about supplier diversity. In 1968, there weren’t many, if any, Supplier Diversity programs among corporations. But IBM continued to put diversity first and created a program to promote inclusion and opportunity for diverse suppliers. In 2018, they achieved the 50th Anniversary of their Supplier Diversity (SD) Program.

In 1968, IBM began with the inception of the minority business development program. Since that time, IBM’s business imperative includes the proactive process of sourcing products and services from suppliers owned by individuals previously left out of the economic mainstream.

IBM's Supplier Diversity Program was expanded globally in 2003. IBM has been founding member of WEConnect International, Billion Dollar Roundtable as well as other organisations and agencies which connect diverse owned businesses with corporations. IBM, together with other corporations, also pledged on stage in front of 12,000 people at the Global Citizen Festival in Hamburg Germany in July 2017 to spend an additional $300 million from women-owned businesses from 2017 – 2020.

With their engagement and seat on the board of WEConnect International, they not only support women business owners, but also assist WEConnect International in educating women-owned businesses and corporations, assist with the retention of both members and corporations and attracting new members where possible. They convince other corporates of the value-add which supplier diversity brings to their business.

You can watch their 50year celebration video here and to read about success stories with WEConnect International, click here.

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