Diversity & Inclusion

Taking on Racism With Call for Code Employee Challenge

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The events and reactions sparked by the recent killings in the United States are a reminder of the urgency of dealing with systemic racism. IBM is taking action and increasing efforts to ensure technology is used appropriately and productively to deal with racial inequality, beginning with an internal Call for Code Emb(race) Spot Challenge for IBM and Red Hat employees.

From mitigating the devastating impacts of natural disasters, to reversing the effects of climate change on our globe, to helping communities respond and emerge stronger from the COVID-19 pandemic, technology has the power to drive action, as we’ve seen through the Call for Code Global Initiative. And right now, a call to action is needed to eradicate racism. Black lives matter.

We recognize that technology alone cannot fix hundreds of years of racial injustice and inequality. But when we put technology in the hands of the Black community and their supporters, it can begin to bridge a gap and start a dialogue. Together, we can identify areas where technology can help pave a road to progress.

That’s why today, on Juneteenth—the oldest nationally recognized commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States, and a day for contemplating the status quo in our country—we are calling on IBM and Red Hat employees to participate in a Call for Code Emb(race) Spot Challenge that will yield open source solutions that address racial injustice and inequality.

Join a Team

How will this work?

This is not a competition. It’s a time to partner up and work together in unified teams. Participants won’t form a team; they will join one. We’re starting internally and we’ll then give the world our tech—the building blocks— so governmental organizations, companies and individuals can answer the call, build on our solutions, be inspired to create new ones, and truly emb(race) their opportunity and responsibility, in this moment, to change the world.

Through a series of internal meetings, workshops, conversations and design thinking sessions with our Black colleagues, we have learned so much over the past two weeks.  We have heard and synthesized themes based on raw stories, important questions, and authentic concerns. We brought those themes to the IBM Black Community and asked them to vote for the top three themes by which we can collectively make the most meaningful impact through this global Call for Code Challenge to Fight Racism.

Below are the three Call for Code Emb(race) teams that IBM and Red Hat employees can join to help develop solutions:  

  1. Police & Judicial Reform and Accountability:From traffic stops and arrests to sentencing and parole decisions, use technology to better analyze real-world data, provide insights, and make recommendations that will drive racial equality and reform across criminal justice and public safety.
  2. Diverse Representation:Leverage technology to prevent, detect, and remediate bias and misrepresentation in the workplace, products and society.
  3. Policy & Legislation Reform:Use technology to analyze, inform, and develop policy to reform the workplace, products, public safety and legislation

We will officially launch the Emb(race) Challenge on July 6, 2020, for IBM and Red Hat employees to participate. Call for Code is just one way that IBM is addressing the problem of systemic racism. In addition to Emb(race) Call for Code, we also have companywide workstreams in other areas including use of technology, awareness and key partnerships

IBM and its Call for Code partners David Clark Cause and United Nations Human Rights share the commitment to fight racism and inequality. We’re living in unprecedented times, and that calls for unprecedented action. We must lead by example, model behaviors and continue to strive for inclusion, equality and justice for all.

Bob Lord is Senior Vice President for Cognitive Applications, Blockchain and Ecosystems, IBM.

Evaristus Mainsah

Evaristus Mainsah is General Manager, IBM Hybrid Cloud and Edge Ecosystem and co-chair of IBM's Black Executive Council.

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