Lindsay-Rae McIntyre, a UNC-Chapel Hill graduate and a Morehead Scholar who earned her MBA at Duke, could become chief diversity officer at Microsoft after all.

IBM, where McIntyre had led diversity efforts, obtained a restraining order in federal court shortly after Microsoft announced McIntyre’s hiring on Feb. 10. Big Blue cited non-compete claims and said McIntyre had access to trade secrets. McIntyre served as Chief Diversity Officer and Vice President of HR at IBM, leading its diversity efforts.

On Thursday, IBM and lawyers representing McIntyre met in the New York court to discuss a possible deal during a “settlement conference.” A transcript about the proceedings was made but will not be made available for at least a week as both sides are given the chance to seek redactions, according to a notice published by the court.

However, Bloomberg News reported that there was movement toward a settlement that it described as “a temporarily limited role” at Microsoft. The talks took five hours.

“We have moved the ball a little bit and we’re hopeful you can help us move it further,” Robert Atkins, an attorney for IBM, told the judge, according to Bloomberg. The news service added that Atkins said a “draft of an agreement” had been sent to McIntyre.

McIntyre’s attorneys had issues with the proposed agreement, such as how long she would be required to “sit out from full responsibilities” and money as well as other equity IBM wants to claw back from their client, Bloomberg added.

“No need” for IBM’s “purported trade secrets”

In a court filing on Wednesday reviewed by WRAL TechWire, McIntyre’s lawyers told the judge that “neither McIntyre nor Microsoft has any need for IBM’s purported trade secrets.”

Initially, the attorneys said IBM’s action was “draconian.”

“Even if this Court finds that the IBM diversity-related data and information at-issue are trade secrets, there is simply no basis to conclude that McIntyre’s purported know;edge of IBM’s diversity practices would be of any use to her work at Microsoft,” the lawyers wrote Wednesday.

The lawyers also said McIntyre and Microsoft “have committed to follow a set of protocols to assure IBM that she will in no way competitively disadvantage IBM.” For example, over one year after leaving IBM, McIntyre “will not have responsibility with respect to three important functions of her role at IBM – executive succession planning, OFCCP [Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs] compliance and reporting, and recruiting for positions that would conflict with her non-solicitation obligations.”

IBM also says McIntyre, who has worked at the tech giant for nearly two decades, had access to the development of “artificial intelligence-based tools and methods” regarding career development, diversity information and other data.

In seeking to block her move to Microsoft, Big Blue claimed that McIntyre violated a one-year non-competitive agreement. The company also said the executive “abruptly resigned to compete against IBM” and possessed highly confidential and sensitive information about IBM’s diversity strategies, hiring targets, technologies and innovations, IBM said in the lawsuit that was filed on Feb. 11, according to Reuters.

Microsoft announced the hiring of McIntyre on Sunday, Feb. 10. IBM quickly obtained the restraining order.

Microsoft role

“I am excited to join Microsoft, a company that has not only adapted well to rapid change in the business landscape but elevated the standards of what we can expect in a technology provider when it comes to diversity and inclusion,” McIntyre said in a statement on Feb. 10. “I look forward to advancing that agenda and contributing to the foundation Microsoft is building.”

Microsoft spelled out an aggressive agenda for McIntyre, who graduated from UNC in 1997 and earned her MBA at Duke’s Fuqua School of Business in 2004.

“As CDO, McIntyre will implement and drive a multitude of existing cross-company initiatives to further Microsoft’s progress in building a diverse and inclusive culture,” Microsoft said in the announcement.

“In addition to leading Microsoft’s efforts internally, McIntyre will also play a key role in building partnerships and working with leading organizations outside of Microsoft to help advance diversity and inclusion in the tech sector overall.”

IBM employs several thousand people across North Carolina.