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  • Writer's pictureCarolina MIlanesi

IBM's 2023 Impact Report: Driving Positive Change in Business and Society

IBM has demonstrated a strong commitment to Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) principles for years. The company's latest impact report highlights its progress and performance across three key ESG pillars: ethical impact, equitable impact, and environmental impact. This comprehensive approach to ESG showcases IBM's dedication to leveraging technology responsibly and ethically to drive positive change in business and society. Arvind Krishna, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer wrote at the start of the report: “As IBMers, we believe in leveraging technology to make a transformative impact on business and society. At the same time, rapid advances in powerful technologies like AI must be balanced by responsible scaling and deployment strategies.”

Ethical Impact: Setting the Standard for Responsible Technology

IBM has made significant strides in promoting ethical practices throughout its operations. In 2023, the company has achieved 100% employee participation in its annual Business Conduct Guidelines program, ensuring that all employees understand and adhere to the company's ethical standards. IBM also provides ethics training to over 600 technology suppliers, extending its commitment to ethical practices beyond its own walls.

In addition to training, IBM has released a responsible AI governance component, demonstrating its dedication to developing and deploying AI technologies in an ethical manner. The company has also engaged in policy advocacy on critical issues such as AI, cybersecurity, and workforce skills, recognizing the importance of shaping the regulatory landscape to promote responsible technology use.

The company’s commitment to ethical practices is further reinforced by its governance structure. The Board of Directors, ESG Executive Steering Committee, and ESG Working Group oversee environmental, social, and governance matters, ensuring that ESG principles are embedded in the company's decision-making processes. IBM has also adopted a Human Rights Statement of Principles that aligns with international standards, affirming its dedication to respecting and promoting human rights across its global operations.

Equitable Impact: Fostering Diversity, Inclusion, and Skills Development

IBM has made notable progress in creating an equitable impact within its workforce and the broader community. To reinforce the company’s focus on attracting and retaining diverse talent in its workforce that represents its clients and the

world, IBM has tied executive compensation to diversity goals, demonstrating its commitment to building a diverse and inclusive workplace. IBM has also invested $250 million in apprenticeships and new-collar programs by 2025, providing opportunities for individuals from diverse backgrounds to develop valuable skills and enter the technology workforce.

In addition to its internal efforts, IBM engages 100% of its suppliers on sound practices and maintains pay equity across its global workforce. The company conducts annual analyses to identify and address any pay gaps across genders globally and races/ethnicities in the U.S., ensuring fair compensation for all employees. At IBM, women globally earn $1.00 for every $1.00 earned by men for similar work. The same is true for underrepresented minorities in the U.S.

IBM's commitment to equitable impact extends beyond its own operations. IBM is addressing the talent gap, one of the biggest challenges facing businesses today, through its social impact education programs. The company has committed to skill 30 million people by 2030 to democratize opportunity, fill the growing skills gap, and empower new generations of workers. Since the commitment, over 11.5 million learners have engaged with free IBM training content through various education initiatives.

The company is expanding collaborations with universities and partners to deliver AI training to adult learners and launching new generative AI coursework through IBM SkillsBuild. IBM's U.S. Apprenticeship Program and Tech Re-Entry Program provide pathways for individuals to gain skills and re-enter the workforce, while its allyship programs foster an inclusive culture and empower employees to become allies for underrepresented groups.

Environmental Impact: Leading the Way in Sustainability

IBM has set ambitious goals and made significant progress in creating a positive environmental impact. The company has reduced its operational greenhouse gas emissions by 68.5% against a 2010 baseline, surpassing its 2025 target. IBM has also met its 2025 waste diversion target, demonstrating its commitment to minimizing waste and promoting circular economy principles.

In addition to reducing its environmental footprint, IBM has implemented initiatives to promote biodiversity and sustainable practices. The company has eliminated single-use plastics in most of its cafeterias and planted 70 pollinator gardens at its locations worldwide. These efforts showcase IBM's dedication to preserving and enhancing the natural environment.

IBM leverages its expertise in AI and hybrid cloud technology to expand sustainability programs and address environmental threats. The company aims to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and has set targets for renewable electricity procurement, energy conservation, and water conservation.

To ensure the effective implementation of its environmental initiatives, IBM maintains a robust global environmental management system (EMS) that aligns with ISO 14001 and ISO 50001 standards. The EMS covers all stages of IBM's operations and supply chain, promoting a systematic approach to environmental management. The company collaborates with organizations like the European Green Digital Coalition and NASA on initiatives related to climate change, conservation, pollution prevention, and responsible sourcing, leveraging partnerships to amplify its environmental impact.

A Comprehensive Approach to ESG

IBM's commitment to ESG extends beyond its three pillars, encompassing a comprehensive approach to human rights, corporate governance, risk management, and business ethics. The company has established policies, guidelines, and training programs to promote ethical behavior and compliance. IBM's AI Ethics Board ensures that ethical principles guide business and product decisions, while the company's Business Conduct Guidelines and Code of Conduct for Business Partners set clear expectations for employees and partners.

IBM places a strong emphasis on employee learning, development, and well-being. The company invests in advanced tools and resources to empower employees to direct their own career paths and build necessary skills. IBM has refreshed its learning program to align with a skills growth strategy, allowing employees to accelerate skills development and gain more relevant skills efficiently. The company also fosters a culture of conscious inclusion and active allyship, with a focus on building a more diverse workforce and advocating for equity.

To ensure transparency and accountability, IBM provides detailed information about its ESG reporting practices and disclosures. The company's ESG report covers a wide range of topics, including governance structure, risk management, business ethics, compliance, anti-corruption policies, and mechanisms for seeking advice and raising concerns. IBM also reports on its economic performance, financial assistance from the government, customer health and safety, product information and labeling, data privacy and cybersecurity, conflicts of interest, policy advocacy, tax governance, and compliance with laws and regulations.


IBM's progress and performance across its ESG pillars demonstrate the commitment to leveraging technology responsibly and ethically as a force for good in business and society. By setting ambitious goals, investing in its workforce, and collaborating with stakeholders, IBM continues to drive positive change and inspire other organizations to follow suit.

The company's comprehensive approach to ESG, encompassing ethical impact, equitable impact, and environmental impact, showcases its dedication to creating long-term value for all stakeholders. IBM's efforts to promote ethical practices, foster diversity and inclusion, develop workforce skills, and address environmental challenges serve as a model for other companies looking to integrate ESG principles into their operations.



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