IBM's chief diversity officer knows too much and must be stopped!

Microsoft hired her, but Big Blue sues to stop her exporting its succession planning secrets

Microsoft has named Lindsay-Rae McIntyre as its chief diversity officer – and IBM has sued the Windows giant in the US to stop it happening.

At the time of writing McIntrye's LinkedIn profile says she was "responsible for Global Leadership / Succession Planning for IBM" as well as the company's diversity programs. Either role could be the reason that Big Blue's sueball, filed 12 February in the Southern District of New York, complains that she is in possession of too many IBM secrets to allow her to become a Microsoftie.

The complaint says she has “knowledge of IBM's most closely guarded and competitively sensitive strategic plans and recruitment initiatives”.

These include “diversity strategies, initiatives, hiring targets, representation data, and technologies and innovations”, and she also oversaw teams “developing artificial intelligence-based tools and methodologies” tracking stuff like career development, paths for promotion, and diversity metrics.

Without any irony whatever, IBM's complaint notes that McIntyre was herself briefed to “identify, target, and devise plans to recruit more than 50 top diverse external candidates” for executive roles.

McIntyre's lawyer, not surprisingly, called the IBM lawsuit “draconian” because Big Blue wants to “prevent McIntyre from working - for an entire year, in any position, anywhere in the world, for any company IBM deems to be a ‘competitor’ in any dimension”.

US District Judge Vincent Briccetti has granted an injunction against McIntyre's start, and has scheduled a conference for February 22.

IBM doesn't like its senior leaders joining rivals: in 2017 it went to court in an attempt to stop CTO Jeff Smith leaving for Amazon Web Services. Arguments in that case were similar to those used here: Smith knew too much about IBM's plans, which made him dangerous to Big Blue's wellbeing.

That action succeeded and Smith eventually took a job with World Fuel Systems. ®

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