If you’re a diversity and inclusion professional, you need to know about the latest lawsuit between IBM and Microsoft. IBM is currently suing Microsoft for hiring its former chief diversity officer whose job was to promote, recruit, and hire more women and minorities in the tech space. The lawsuit claims that Microsoft “would unfairly benefit in the competition to hire qualified women and minority competition if McIntyre is allowed to jump ship.” While both McIntyre and Microsoft have denied this allegation, the issue seems to stem from a project McIntyre worked at while at IBM where “she oversaw teams that developed artificial intelligence-based tools and methodologies to track career development, recommend growth opportunities and potential paths for promotion and to monitor diversity metrics at the company.” IBM believes McIntyre will help build a similar tool for Microsoft and ultimately have a better shot at competing for potential hires.
McIntyre claims that “as a mother of three young children she accepted the job with Microsoft because it allowed her to relocate to Washington state and be near her parents and other family members.” IBM also included that Microsoft’s diversity numbers, which are not released to the public, could be positively affected by McIntyre’s IBM knowledge and no one would ever know.
In a statement McIntyre defended her decision by saying that”While it is true that organizations that do better on diversity and inclusion may have a competitive advantage, that simple construct should not be confused with the issue before this court: whether IBM can enforce a breathtakingly overbroad non-competition agreement against its former chief diversity officer who has taken no IBM confidential information,”
Microsoft has denied any interest in IBM’s diversity tools or data.