When I left IBM after 23-years I won’t claim it was because of my age. I was 52 at the time and yes, I let them “pink slip” me.
I was though disappointed but not surprised when I read this by The Register on an age discrimination at IBM. While IBM denies it, there has clearly been a policy since at least 2004 to purge as many older workers as possible. The policy, much like all their recent strategies has failed. The median age of workers across the corporation is stalled at 48.
For many years I didn’t bother voting in IBM Shareholder meetings, it didn’t seem worth it. After all, for many years I was busy affecting, and sometimes helping set the company’s internal technical strategies. Not anymore. I’m not much of a voting bloc, I own part of one share that I can’t work out how to get rid of. So, every year I take my vote for the annual shareholder meeting and vote down the oldest members of IBM’s board.
The Board of Directors doesn’t set strategy, doesn’t set management policies, but they do oversea large expenditures, mergers, and appointments to senior leadership at IBM. Their current average age is 62.9-years old; their median age is 63-years old. By and large it’s a wealthy old white boys club of retired executives from the boards of IBM customers. It’s a cash cow. Buy IBM, and later in life, IBM will buy you.
If you are an IBM shareholder, an employee with shares, there is absolutely no risk in voting off the board each year the oldest members of the board of directors. Vote to appoint the youngest candidates. It won’t change much, just like Ginni Rometty’s failed bid to reduce the average ago of employees. There is just a chance that with a younger board of directors they might ask some difficult questions rather than just waving things through.
IBM has lots of fancy graphics about the board on the investor page, none of them are about age. If Age isn’t an issue for the board, why should it be for the workers?