A senior employee at computer giant IBM has quit her job and publicly condemned her former boss, in one example of what can happen when the leaders of a business choose to get involved in politics.
The employee decided to resign from her position at IBM after the company’s chief executive Ginni Rometty published an open letter to US President-elect Donald Trump following his election win.
In her own open letter published on NewCo, senior content strategist in IBM’s corporate marketing department Elizabeth Wood said she could no longer work for a company “that would ignore the real needs of its workforce”.
Rometty’s letter congratulated Trump and outlined “ideas that I believe will help achieve the aspiration you articulated and that can advance a national agenda in a time of profound change”.
“I know that you are committed to help America’s economy grow in ways that are good for all its people,” Rometty said in her letter.
In her response, Wood slammed Rometty’s letter, claiming it showed “a willingness to legitimise threats to our country for financial gain”.
“Your letter offered the backing of IBM’s global workforce in support of his agenda that preys on marginalised people and threatens my wellbeing as a woman, a Latina and a concerned citizen,” Wood said.
“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.”
Rometty’s letter offered a number of suggestions to President-elect Trump, including a focus on vocational education and “new collar” jobs, taking care of veterans, and building better infrastructure to support Internet of Things integration.
Rometty signs off by saying she hopes the ideas offered “represent ways that we can work together to achieve prosperity that is broadly shared in our society”.
Wood argued the future of IBM hinges on an “inclusive and welcoming culture”, and criticised Rometty after she did not mention the company’s diverse culture in the open letter to Trump. Wood said her decision to leave IBM did not come lightly and that she is leaving without a backup offer or safety net.
“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 organisation where we are not respected,” she says.
“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.”
This is an edited version of an article that first appeared on Smart Company.