Sponsored By

IBM, Microsoft Duke It Out Over Chief Diversity Hire

IBM alleges Microsoft's hire of its Chief Diversity Officer Lindsay-Rae McIntyre violates its non-compete agreement, but should improving diversity be a proprietary process?

Sarah Thomas

February 15, 2018

2 Min Read
IBM, Microsoft Duke It Out Over Chief Diversity Hire

IBM has filed suit against Microsoft for hiring away its Chief Diversity Officer Lindsay-Rae McIntyre, alleging it violates a non-compete agreement. The resulting war of words between the two companies raises an interesting question: Should improving diversity be a proprietary process?

Seems disingenuous to me. Here's what Axios reports IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM) had to say, as it threw some shade over the hire:

"As IBM's chief diversity officer, Lindsay-Rae McIntyre was at the center of highly confidential and competitively sensitive information that has fueled IBM's success in these areas. While we can appreciate Microsoft's need to deal with mounting criticism of its record on diversity, IBM intends to fully enforce Lindsay-Rae's non-compete agreement -- just like we do with all of our senior leaders -- to protect our competitive information."

Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) responded that it has "no interest in any of IBM's confidential information."

We believe the rising tide lifts all ships! Join Women in Comms for an important morning of networking and discussion at our annual WiC networking breakfast event in Denver on March 22. Let's put an end to sexual harassment in the workplace. There's still time to register for this free event!

Let's be clear, the entire tech industry has a problem with diversity and inclusion and fixing it should be a priority for all. So, shouldn't we all be sharing our best practices and helping each other improve the problem? It's not a competition; it's a "rising tide lifts all ships" scenario more than anything. McIntyre said as much in her court documents response to the lawsuit.

Apparently, Axios notes, that IBM is calling Microsoft out for arguing in previous court cases that its diversity data and methods were proprietary and should be kept out of public view.

First of all, I don't think any company in tech is excelling at diversity and inclusion. There are still rampant issues and large companies, including IBM, still have plenty of work to do. But, the bigger issue is, why would any company want to keep their successful diversity strategies a secret? That doesn't help anyone and only adds to the bigger problem.

This will be an interesting lawsuit to watch unfold. The ruling will be interesting, but I also hope IBM's diversity "secrets" are unveiled in the process.

— Sarah Thomas, Director, Women in Comms

About the Author(s)

Sarah Thomas

Director, Women in Comms

Sarah Thomas's love affair with communications began in 2003 when she bought her first cellphone, a pink RAZR, which she duly "bedazzled" with the help of superglue and her dad.

She joined the editorial staff at Light Reading in 2010 and has been covering mobile technologies ever since. Sarah got her start covering telecom in 2007 at Telephony, later Connected Planet, may it rest in peace. Her non-telecom work experience includes a brief foray into public relations at Fleishman-Hillard (her cussin' upset the clients) and a hodge-podge of internships, including spells at Ingram's (Kansas City's business magazine), American Spa magazine (where she was Chief Hot-Tub Correspondent), and the tweens' quiz bible, QuizFest, in NYC.

As Editorial Operations Director, a role she took on in January 2015, Sarah is responsible for the day-to-day management of the non-news content elements on Light Reading.

Sarah received her Bachelor's in Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia. She lives in Chicago with her 3DTV, her iPad and a drawer full of smartphone cords.

Away from the world of telecom journalism, Sarah likes to dabble in monster truck racing, becoming part of Team Bigfoot in 2009.

Subscribe and receive the latest news from the industry.
Join 62,000+ members. Yes it's completely free.

You May Also Like