An open letter to my boss, IBM CEO Ginni Rometty


Dear Ms. Rometty,

My name is Elizabeth Wood and I am a senior content strategist within the IBM corporate marketing department, based in New York City. I have worked hard to get to this stage in my career, and have been a valued member of my team at IBM. However, I have chosen to resign, as I can no longer contribute to an organization that would ignore the real needs of its workforce.

Last Tuesday, you shared with the world your open letter to president-elect Donald Trump, outlining ways for his administration’s success to conveniently dovetail with that of IBM products. Your letter offered the backing of IBM’s global workforce in support of his agenda that preys on marginalized people and threatens my well-being as a woman, a Latina and a concerned citizen.

The company’s hurry to do this was a tacit endorsement of his position, and has signaled to me something very important about IBM’s values: a willingness to legitimize threats to our country for financial gain.

The president-elect has demonstrated contempt for immigrants, veterans, people with disabilities, Black, Latinx, Jewish, Muslim and LGBTQ communities. These groups comprise a growing portion of the company you lead, Ms. Rometty. They work every day for IBM’s success and have been silenced by your words.

As a female CEO at a Fortune 500 company, you are in a painfully small club. There is no doubt that you have faced many obstacles to get to where you are now, including from men like president-elect Trump. Why not be clear that his words and actions are unacceptable? For example, take PepsiCo, Inc. CEO Indra K. Nooyi who publicly remarked in response to his despicable conduct, “Forget about the Pepsi brand. How dare we talk about women that way?”

A look at IBM recruitment collateral suggests that the future of the company hinges on realizing an inclusive and welcoming culture, though you do not communicate this vision within the many pages of your letter to a man who will soon be in the top office of the United States government. There have been days of protest across the country. Students everywhere — future IBMers — are marching out of their high schools and colleges to express their outrage. The spike in hate crimes that has erupted across this country since the election emphasizes what a disservice to your workforce it is to ignore their safety.

When the president-elect follows through on his repeated threats to create a public database of Muslims, what will IBM do? Your letter neglects to mention.

The choice to leave IBM did not come lightly. I am not leaving for another offer, nor do I have a safety net to fall back on. What I do have is the knowledge that my own life — and those of the several hundred thousand who serve your company worldwide — are too valuable to waste at an organization where we are not respected.

It is my belief that you owe your staff and the president-elect a public clarification on IBM’s commitment to the protection and representation of all of its employees.


Elizabeth Wood

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