Diversity and Inclusion

Diversity of people.
Diversity of thought.
A smarter planet for everyone.


IBM employees during World War II manufacturing efforts, 1944
IBM employees "Keep 'Em Flying!" during World War II. 1940s.

Michael Supa
Michael Supa. 1942.

Ruth Leach and Thomas J. Watson Sr. with Dwight D. Eishenhower
Ruth Leach and Thomas J. Watson Sr. with Dwight D. Eishenhower. 1943.

IBM Mark 1
IBM Mark 1. 1944.

Visually impaired IBM employees
Visually impaired IBM employees. 1946.

Tom Laster with Thomas J. Watson Sr
Tom Laster with Thomas J. Watson Sr. 1948.

From Crisis, Progress

As the nation emerges from the crisis of World War II and begins a gradual move toward reversing decades of segregation, IBM expands its commitment to working with all people.


Military Service Benefits are offered to IBM employees.


IBM recruits Michael Supa, a blind psychologist who helps IBM hire 181 people with disabilities by 1943. Supa's motto: "No person is handicapped if he has the right job."


IBM opens a training center for more than 600 people with disabilities in New York City.

Ruth Leach is appointed by IBM to be its first woman vice president. Between 1940 and 1943, one-third of IBM's manufacturing hires are women.

"We are all familiar with the fact that women do far more buying of goods and services than men. And leaving out the whole question of freedom and rights for women, is it not simply a matter of sound business policy to have in management a substantial number whose impressions, reactions and emotions are most like those of the majority of your customers?"

Ruth Leach, IBM Vice President (retired).


IBM becomes the first corporation to support the United Negro College Fund. One-half century later, IBM donates $10 million to the Fund's Campaign 2000.

IBM presents the world's first large-scale calculating computer. Designed in collaboration with Harvard University, the Mark I (or Automatic Sequence Controlled Calculator) uses electromechanical relays to solve addition problems in less than one second, multiplication in six seconds and division in twelve seconds.


IBM subcontracts work to Sheltered and Blind Workshops in Binghamton, New York; workers receive the same wages as IBM employees.

Jacqueline Decker becomes the first woman to join IBM's highly touted sales force.

IBM begins its Retirement Plan.

IBM's first research facility, the Watson Scientific Computing Laboratory, opens in a renovated fraternity house near Columbia University in Manhattan. Today, IBM Research operates laboratories in China, India, Israel, Japan, Switzerland and the United States.


IBM hires its first Black salesman, Tom Laster, and four Black data - processing trainees. Other Black pioneers include: Lionel Fultz, first marketing representative (1951) and branch manager (1964); Harry Cochraine, first engineer (1952); and Calvin Waite, first engineering manager (1956).

IBM manufactures the Banks Pocket Braille Writer, a pocket-sized Braille printer, which it donates to veterans and sells to public at cost (Visually impaired IBM employees receive free pocket-sized Braille printers).

Hospital Plan added to IBM's benefit offerings.


Disability Coverage added to IBM's Benefit Plan.


IBM joins the President's Committee on the Handicapped.

IBM salesman Tom Laster joins the IBM One Hundred Percent Club, an organization honoring quota - reaching salespeople.


Thomas J. Watson Sr. becomes Chairman and CEO of IBM.