IBM, one of the big tech companies that spoke out against North Carolina’s controversial HB2, is stepping up its support for diversity with a new rainbow logo.

Lindsay-Rae McIntyre, Chief Diversity Officer at IBM and a graduate of Duke University, unveiled the logo along with a blog post in which the global tech giant reaffirmed its support for diversity.

“IBM is proud of our long-standing commitment to fostering diversity, acceptance and inclusion. We strongly oppose discrimination of any kind toward anyone. IBM firmly stands by all of our employees and strives to attract, retain and grow the very best and brightest diverse talent to fulfill our company’s purpose — to be essential,” she declared.

The eight-bar multi-color rainbow is “the new symbol of IBM’s commitment to diversity, acceptance and inclusion,” the company, which employs several thousand people in the Research Triangle and across North Carolina, said.

The logo was released a day after IBM launched a new web site supporting largely unknown heroes in STEM, including the three female African-American mathematicians saluted in the new movie “Hidden Figures,” which launched Friday. (That augmented reality project can be accessed through geography around N.C. State, Duke and UNC-Chapel Hill.)

McIntyre noted IBM’s leadership in equality and opportunity dating back decades.

“IBM established an equal pay policy for men and women in the 1930’s, and an equal opportunity policy 11 years before the Civil Rights Act became law,” McIntyre wrote.

“We were among the first companies to include sexual orientation as part of our Equal Opportunity policy, and we extended domestic partner benefits to gay and lesbian employees in the U.S. almost 20 years ago. And our progress has not stopped. We now offer a variety of benefits in 53 countries to same-gender domestic partners or spouses. This year alone we announced the launch of same-gender partner benefits in 11 countries.”

Will the logo make a difference?

“It’s been a particularly frightening month for those in the LGBTQ community, so even small symbols of solidarity matter,” wrote Heather Dockray at tech news website Mashable, noting the recent introduction of legilsation in other states that worry the LGBT community.

The background

McIntyre pointed out that the new version of IBM’s 8-bar logo (traditionally all blue) is a rainbow since it “is recognized worldwide as the symbol of LGBT equality, and we are proud to fuse it with the emblem that has represented our company for more than four decades. This is a demonstration of IBM’s continuing efforts to advance and influence nondiscrimination workplace policies consistent with basic human rights. The logo will be used in conjunction with diversity focused IBM programs and initiatives, and also in our pro-diversity advocacy.”

She then spelled out the history of the rainbow as a logo for diversity.

“The colors of the IBM rainbow logo design were adopted from the original rainbow colors designed by artist Gilbert Baker and commissioned by civic and cultural icon, Harvey Milk, shortly before his assassination,” McIntyre wrote.

“Baker’s design was created to be a symbol for the gay rights movement. Inspired by the Flag of the Races, Baker’s design consisted of 8 stripes of color, each representing a different aspect of humanity. The design was used for the first rainbow flags that were hand-dyed and debuted at the Gay and Lesbian Freedom Day march held on June 25, 1978.”

And, looking ahead, McIntyre reaffirmed IBM’s commitment.

“For nearly its entire history, IBM has been a progressive leader in diversity, advocacy and innovation,” she said. “We proudly pay tribute to Baker’s original vision in the adaptation of our corporate logo as a way to demonstrate our solidarity, support and continued commitment to the rights of the LGBT community.”

Read the full post at:

A New Symbol of IBM’s Diversity Leadership