back to article IBM's chief diversity officer knows too much and must be stopped!

Microsoft has named Lindsay-Rae McIntyre as its chief diversity officer – and IBM has sued the Windows giant in the US to stop it happening. At the time of writing McIntrye's LinkedIn profile says she was "responsible for Global Leadership / Succession Planning for IBM" as well as the company's diversity programs. Either role …

Chief Diversity Officer?

That's a job title? A real job title? Not something that one gives to an intern? With real money behind it?

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Re: Chief Diversity Officer?

If I had that title, I'd want to leave too.

Can you imagine the ridicule at the directors meetings?

- What's your job?

- I make sure we don't hire too many straight white men.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Chief Diversity Officer?

I would do that that sounds like no working at all.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Chief Diversity Officer?

"- I make sure we don't hire too many straight white men."

Or in the IT world, too many cheaply imported third worlders with dodgy qualifications.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Chief Diversity Officer?

What a waste of shareholder funds.

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Re: Chief Diversity Officer?

" I make sure we don't hire too many straight white men."

At IBM her role is probably the converse: "I make sure we're not firing too few straight white men".

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Re: Chief Diversity Officer?

It's a job title you give to someone who got their job based on the colour of their skin, instead of talent or qualifications.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Chief Diversity Officer?

You can lead a horse to Google, but you cannot make it type.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Chief Diversity Officer?

"- I make sure we don't hire too many straight white men.

Or in the IT world, too many cheaply imported third worlders with dodgy qualifications."

You don't understand IBM's hiring practices...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Chief Diversity Officer?

Another stupid rascist; for a start she is white. IBM were always fair to people of all sorts, many of whom were highly competent.

PS I'm also an older straight white male who was suffered RA, so have more of an axe to grind than many.

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Re: Chief Diversity Officer?

She's obviously failed, when I go to the kitchen there is no diversity, in fact there is nothing@!

All our coffee, tea, milk stirrers are gone!

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Devil

Knows too much

About who is going to be "Resource Actioned" next?

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Re: Knows too much

Apparently, she didn't know she was to be "Resource Actioned" or maybe she put herself on the list?

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Hah this is all just a big set up to make us think IBM *has* long term plans that have a chance of success.

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Paris Hilton

Just a little question

While she hangs in limbo,doing nothing at the beck and call of the lawyers, which company is paying her?

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Boffin

@Neil Barnes Re: Just a little question

It depends... did she already start work at Microsoft or not? If not, then she's not getting paid.

If she already started to work for Microsoft... they may still be paying her while this works itself out in court.

However... here's the rub.

If you're a rank and file employee, there's a clause in your contract that basically prohibits you from working for anyone who's a customer of IBM. This clause is overly broad and isn't enforceable since you have a right to work and earn a living.

Some employees are asked to sign a different contract. (Usually when you come in from an acquisition and they hand you a retention package, you get that contract.) Here, they have a paragraph that prohibits only a couple of companies that are considered competitors. This paragraph is legal and binding. * The major difference is that you have the ability to go work for more than those companies. For me... I was prohibited from working for Oracle or Microsoft. Others could be different.

There are other cases between companies and they ended up settling out of court. The kicker is that most clauses are 6 months and by the time that you end up getting in to trial, the non-compete is up.

*There could be an issue with the term of non-compete. For me, it was 6 months. Here, it looks like a year. The courts may determine that the period is too long and that would invalidate the clause. YMMV depending on the lawyers and judge.

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Re: @Neil Barnes Just a little question

"There could be an issue with the term of non-compete."

Especially in states that do "at will" employment law. If you can be fired at any time with no notice, then you have the right to start a new job at any time with no notice and stuff the higher ups who think they can have their cake and eat it.

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Unhappy

was that an error about Hiring ?

Nope, really did use word hire without a negation symbol. Given IBMs marvelous performance lately, wouldn't want it want competitors to hire its senior management staff ? Oh hang on, executives. At IBM I found there was always room for another process droid to make sure nothing got done, really slowly with much tree felling. Especially as coalface staff evaporated. Probably why government outsourcerer manglement loves them so much. Familiar, similar sort of people.

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Re: This isn't that unusual in the U.S.

What a surprise. The supposed home of free market ideology, where everyone does everything they can to ensure it doesn't happen.

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Re: This isn't that unusual in the U.S.

Non-compete clauses are common in employment contracts in the U.S.

When I worked for the UK subsidiary of a US corporation they tried giving us new contracts with US style non-compete clauses. I pointed out such things were illegal under EU employment law and HR said "sign it anyway, you can ignore the clause". I refused on the grounds that the Yanks would try suing me even if it wasn't legal for them to do so and I didn't want the hassle. A year later some friends and I set up a new company to work on software in an area that our original company had been working on but which was scrapped by the US owner. Guess what the bastards did. They failed of course, and paid for our legal costs.

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Re: This isn't that unusual in the U.S.

Glad I live in a free country in the EU where such clauses are illegal. Employees are not the property of their employers. Even after the 13th amendment it would appear that slavery still operates in the US

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Re: This isn't that unusual in the U.S.

Yes, we're very lucky to be protected by EU laws so that we have control of our own lives..

Oh! Wait......

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Boffin

Re: This isn't that unusual in the U.S.

While the non-compete is common, however how enforceable the clause is... depends on a lot of things.

First the wording... does it present you from your right to work?

Second the length of term of the non-compete.

Your Jimmy Johns example is bunk. Not that I doubt the clause is in there.. but that it would be held enforceable.

(Yes, I did work for the borg. I did have to sign a second contract where the clause was enforceable. And yes, I talked with a lawyer who is familiar with IBM and gave me the straight dope. )

I've seen and signed many other contracts with non-competes. Bottom line, if the non-compete is enforceable, and you sign it... you should honor it.

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Boffin

@Arthur the cat ... Re: This isn't that unusual in the U.S.

Sigh.

You should have signed it.

There are a couple of clauses you need to pay attention to... the one where if a clause is deemed unenforceable, only that paragraph is voided and the rest of the contract is still valid.

Second if that paragraph is unenforceable, and they attempt to sue... especially in the UK, you are going to be made whole. (Loser pays) Also IBM and other companies attempt to use the paragraph to intimidate you. Meaning if you left, and went to work for a competitor or another company they deemed a competitor or customer... they will have their lawyers send you a harassing letter.

You can then tell them to pound sand and ignore it.

Like I said in a response to an earlier post... the regular IBM contract's non-compete is overly broad. You have a right to work in your field. If you had to sign a separate contract ... with consideration paid to you... and that clause wasn't overly broad... they can and will sue you.

Now... in your case... specifically to your case... you claimed to be working on a piece of software that your old company was working on. They could sue you for IP theft if your new work was based on anything taken from the old company. (e.g. notes, docs or code) You're a direct competitor.

Again YMMV and your lawsuit was not an issue of a non-compete clause.

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Re: @Arthur the cat ... This isn't that unusual in the U.S.

You should have signed it.

Why? It was simply my original contract plus a US style non-compete clause and a tripled notice period. No benefit to me whatsoever from the change, just extra bureaucracy.

Now... in your case... specifically to your case... you claimed to be working on a piece of software that your old company was working on. They could sue you for IP theft if your new work was based on anything taken from the old company. (e.g. notes, docs or code) You're a direct competitor.

No IP whatsoever was taken over. The work done in the old company suffered badly from having to cobble up the new software over the existing products, which weren't at all suited for the task(*). In the new company we had the luxury of doing a clean sheet design, using technologies the original company didn't possess.

(*) It was almost as bad as trying to write a GUI in COBOL.

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Re: @Arthur the cat ... This isn't that unusual in the U.S.

If you don't sign the new agreement, you're gone.

So you had to make the choice of staying or leaving... its easier to stay and then plan your exit than deal with a sudden exit.

As to the lawsuit.

That was predictable. Because you worked for them and are now creating a competing product? Its a given you'll get sued. The lawsuit had merit and a given. You should have anticipated it. That's not to say that you would not be successful, you were, but that the lawsuit was predictable. (Yes, it sucks, welcome to America where lawyers can be found under any rock... )

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Re: @Arthur the cat ... This isn't that unusual in the U.S.

If you don't sign the new agreement, you're gone.

You live in the US, land of the corporate lawyer and no employment rights. Here firing someone for not signing a new contract would be constructive dismissal which would cost them dearly.

Also, at the time all software companies in the area had major problems finding staff, which meant that a) getting a bad reputation for mistreating staff was a total no-no, b) I could have got a new job with a couple of phone calls, and anyway c) I was essential enough to the company that the local UK management would have flatly refused to fire me.

As to the lawsuit. That was predictable. Because you worked for them and are now creating a competing product?

Nope, not a competing product. They'd canned the project because "it wasn't core software". We moved into an area they weren't in. A few years later when we were succesful they did want to be in that area - so they came to us asking nicely for a partnership.

(Yes, it sucks, welcome to America where lawyers can be found under any rock... )

Which is why I'd turned down a couple of US job offers a few years before and remained in the UK. I think you missed that I originally said "When I worked for the UK subsidiary of a US corporation"?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: This isn't that unusual in the U.S.

If you take the money, then honour it.

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Re: This isn't that unusual in the U.S.

Historically, the UK has opted out of the EU laws which protect employees. I don't know whether there are any EU directives or regulations which would protect an employee from a clause on their contract which operates as stated.

I do know that a clause which prohibits an employee from joining a competitor is enforceable under English law. The general philosophy is that it should not be a "restraint of trade". A period of a year would usually be enforceable, particularly where a senior employee intends to join a direct competitor.

I would guess that this approach is one which the US imported from England.

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Headmaster

Without any irony whatever, IBM's complaint notes...

"Whatsoever"?

Oh, and to IBM's credit, I've worked with a few female colleagues there who where very good engineers. Not a frequent occasion in most companies.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Without any irony whatever, IBM's complaint notes...

Very true

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IBM have a hiring policy???

I was under the impression their strategy was to get rid of anyone who actually did anything, possibly running the company with mutant management from Talos iV (the cage, the menagerie).

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Mushroom

The world has gone mad

Step 1: Sack anyone with "Diversity" in their job name

Step 2: Hire the best person for the job regardless of their colour, gender, sexuality, etc

Step 3: Profit

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The world has gone mad

Profit is also optional, you just need cash flow.

No irony intended...

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Devil

Easy solution for IBM -

Pay her enough not to work for anyone else for the year. Include this in any contracts.

(Along the lines of "if you leave we will continue to pay you x% of salary (percentage to be based on value of information held) for a period of one year on the understanding that you won't work for our competitors or share proprietary time sensitive data in that period. You will not be privy to any of our new data during this period so when it expires your knowledge will be out of date.")

Or is that too simple?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Easy solution for IBM -

That idea has two strikes against it.

1) it is very sensible

2) it would require the oligarchs to part with cash

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Boffin

Re: Easy solution for IBM -

You do realize that they already did it, right.

When IBM has you sign a separate employee agreement, its usually tied to additional compensation which is what makes the contract binding. So if she got a promotion... and they hand her this contract... that's enough.

Now she could have gone to a lot of different companies except those specifically listed. No lawsuit no gardening period.

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Plans? IBM Has Plans?

Seriously, shouldn't IBM have to demonstrate an actual plan to claim that someone has knowledge of their plans.

I think the working "plan" right now is:

1. Word cloud of buzzwords involving "Cloud", "AI", and "blockchain

2. ?????

3. Profit!

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Recruitment meetings must be interesting...

HR droid: "Well, we've been through all the CVs, the stake-holders have interviewed the short-listed candidates, and we're going to hire this guy here: John Smith."

Diversity Officer: "Is he a pregnant black lesbian gay non-gender-binary tetra-plegic that part-time-identifies as an inanimate object, and a member of the Labour Party?"

HR droid: "Not as far as we know, no."

Diversity Officer: "Well fuck off then, you're not having him."

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Future employer

I once had one of these from an employer (in England). It was written in the contract that I'd show it to my next employer who then told me it was worthless and to ignore it... This was going to work for a customer, not a competitor though.

It makes me wonder if there wasn't a similar clause in her contract.

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Boffin

@Korev Re: Future employer

Yup. Even if the clause is enforceable, its rarely ever used.

The issue is that for some companies they are introducing you to their customer. Its written in to many contracts as an 'anti-poaching' clause.

The reason companies loathe to enforce it...

1) You're worth X, the relationship of customer is worth Y*X where Y is > 1.

2) Its a punitive measure. Meaning they spend $$$ to stop you from working at said client where they will never collect enough in damages to make it worth their while.

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vacancy

Apart from the usual "features" you might expect would qualify you for this position, I expect it would be helpful if the ideal replacement candidate had a brain injury - they would fit right in to senior management. Hey put them in charge of strategy as well!

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Anonymous Coward

diversity hire ... the opposite of university hire

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Alert

she has “knowledge of IBM's most closely guarded and competitively sensitive strategic plans and recruitment initiatives

Um. What the hell is so secret about IBM shredding staff faster than a wheat harvester ???

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IBM was my first encounter with a big company & not-so-subtle political influence that you would recognize from national politics. I found it noteworthy that in 2000, my offer packet came with no white males among the six to eight faces.

So no, IBM has not been about protecting WMs for quite some time.

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Ho hum

Diversity officer isn't about some quota or choosing people for their skin colour. I've never been in HR, wouldn't even go near one of them if there was only one seat left in the staff room. But even I know that a diversity officer's job is going to be to make sure that the company is using fair, open recruitment (and evaluation and disciplinary) procedures, keeps records, pays male and female staff in the same or equivalent job the same rate, makes sure that there is appropriate access for disabled staff and that recruitment is from an open process - not by old boys' club contacts.

Whether that is done out of genuine good intention or to avoid reputational damage when they get found out by failing in these practices (e.g like the BBC gender equality ructions recently) is for others to decide. Either way it's a big job in a big company.

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Re: Ho hum

What you are describing is *equality*, not diversity.

Equality is making sure everybody is treated equally.

A good thing.

Diversity is giving the job to the person who is *less qualified* than the other person, on the basis that their gender/sexual orientation/whatever places a tick in a box.

A bad thing.

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