Case | HBS Case Collection | November 2004

IBM's Diversity Strategy: Bridging the Workplace and the Marketplace

by David A. Thomas and Ayesha Kanji

Abstract

Explores how IBM incorporated diversity into its business strategy, making the case that workforce diversity is critical to marketing its products and services to its customers. In the early 1990s, Ted Childs, vice-president of Workforce Diversity, proposed to CEO Lou Gerstner the creation of eight diversity task forces. Delves into the organizational and cultural impediments to starting a diversity task force initiative and how IBM overcame these obstacles to implement an effective diversity strategy. After the task forces were established, they underwent tremendous growth and became global in scope. Childs also faces the challenge of taking a U.S.-based diversity strategy and applying it to IBM's global organization. Teaching Purpose: To demonstrate how a company can implement an effective diversity strategy and integrate it into its overall business strategy.

Keywords: Information Technology; Diversification; Business Strategy; Integration; Global Strategy; Organizations; Markets; Information Technology Industry; United States;

Citation:

Thomas, David A., and Ayesha Kanji. "IBM's Diversity Strategy: Bridging the Workplace and the Marketplace." Harvard Business School Case 405-044, November 2004.