IBM Faces Insensitivity Issues

For its most recent mea culpa, IBM acknowledged it should not have asked job applicants to fill out if they were “yellow” or “mulatto”.  This comes just a few months after being sued for age discrimination.

Become a Subscriber

Please purchase a subscription to continue reading this article.

Subscribe Now

It would seem that a company as large and sophisticated at IBM would have controls in place to prevent such mishaps from happening.  Interestingly, in 2018, IBM’s Chief HR Officer Diane Gherson was named HR Executive of the Year and was elected as Fellow of the National Academy of Human Resources.

Over the years, IBM has continued to struggle both financially and organizationally.  Its stock price has steadily declined from $200 per share in 2014 to its current trading value of $139.  Besides fundamental issues with deciding which market segments to pursue combined with warding off fierce competition, IBM has also had a tough go figuring out what type of organizational policies to employ.  Once priding themselves for having a more modern outlook where employees could work remotely, in 2017, they demanded that employees must report to an office.

On the bright side, IBM did react quickly to its racial insensitivity stating “Those questions were removed immediately when we became aware of the issue and we apologize. IBM hiring is based on skills and qualifications. We do not use race or ethnicity in the hiring process and any responses we received to those questions will be deleted.”

“IBM has long rejected all forms of racial discrimination and we are taking appropriate steps to make sure this does not happen again.”

And with regards to age discrimination, IBM has denied all wrongdoing.  Yet it’s hard to believe there is no underlying truth to what some IBM veterans are claiming.  One such veteran is Jonathan Langley who joined Big Blue in 1993, and worked his way up the ranks over the next 24 years. Then, in 2017, as worldwide program director and sales lead of the Bluemix software-as-a-service, he was let go.  Langley, 60, believes he "was a successful employee and his performance met or exceeded IBM’s expectations."  Had he "been younger, and especially if he had been a millennial, IBM would not have fired him," his filing claimed.