In a New York Times interview, IBM CEO Arvind Krishna spoke about corporations taking political positions and making contributions. He does not discuss political involvement via groups like the Business Roundtable.
IBM has a history of involving itself in difficult social and political issues, including being among the first companies to offer benefits to same-sex partners of employees in 1996. How do you decide what a company should take a stand on?
You can’t comment on every single thing, otherwise it’s just noise. So you go back to your values. The first value we focus on is that we want to be an inclusive workplace.
That was way before the ’90s. That goes back to the 1930s, when Thomas Watson Sr. put the first women in executive ranks. It goes back to the 1940s, when Watson Jr. began to put the first Black people in management ranks. The same-sex benefits was a continuation of that.
So when it comes to issues like bathroom bills in North Carolina or transgender laws in Texas, we’re willing to speak up and really get very vocal with state government.
But IBM is one of the few companies that stops short of donating money to politicians. Why is that?
It’s a slippery slope. If you pay money to somebody, are you just trying to buy your way into something by doing that? What happens if your candidate doesn’t win?An Optimist at the Helm of IBM – The New York Times