How in the hell is it possible too have a job at IBM, of all places, that is 'too technical?
IBM has once again been sued for alleged age discrimination, this time in Texas on behalf of 15 former employees. The complaint [PDF], filed on Friday in the western district of the US state, comes a week after the nation's Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) analyzed claims of age discrimination by 60 people forced …
While I was at IBM I was in a PS sales role.
Yet I was skilled enough to do the implementation.
While I wanted to take IBM technical courses and get certified on other products, I was not allowed to do so. In fact the only course offered by IBM where I was given approval was for SSM.
I was deemed too technical in my role, yet I needed to be technical since I was designing the solution rather than bringing in one of the consultants to do the work.(About $1,000 in cost savings per contract and I had to do over 75-100 contracts a year.)
If IBM wants you gone... they will invent excuses for you to be gone.
Posted Anon because I have the scars from escaping the borg and too many horror stories about IBM misbehaving ... which is the norm for almost all big corporations.
If IBM wants you gone... they will invent excuses for you to be gone.
This is how things appear on the surface, at least to me. Let's hope a proper discovery process reveals the truth, as well as "how deep the rabbit hole goes". If it's a really deep hole, expect IBM to "settle".
Hopefully these are isolated cases [large companies can have lots of isolated cases]. Systemic age discrimination wouldn't surprise me, however.
I bet that one woman who took the family leave went her entire time without using any of her benefits with respect to emergency leave, etc.. It's like having YOUR insurance rates increased for just being in a not-at-fault accident. Because if she HAD abused emergency leave policies, that would have been listed as a reason for termination.
The issue isn't if IBM wants you gone, its the fact that their objective is to reduce the cost of delivery and older workers tend to be more expensive because you're also paying for experience which the bean counters don't value.
IBM doesn't care about your personal life.
I was driving all night to get down to the hospital where my father-in-law was taken for a medical emergency. It was faster to drive 15 hours than to wait until the next day to try and get a standby ticket and then rent a car. (Also cheaper since we'd need the car indefinitely)
On the drive, I had a senior exec screaming at me that a contract wasn't done. (My admin quits at 5 and it wasn't completed.) The contract was bogus because the client would never sign it. The sales rep was trying to push it because she was losing the account and being reassigned to another account. Plus she put it into her forecast.
How am I supposed to tell the exec that I'm driving to the hospital because my father-in-law is in the ICU and is probably not going to make it while my wife is sitting next to me?
She didn't care. I got the RIP and tried to explain it to my sympathetic manager, however the incident was in my file. That's the day I decided that my time at the borg was numbered.
A friend had a similar experience to the woman in this story.
He's still angry about it and bitter.
So yeah, IBM... they should be made to pay for their sins.
I was working for a company just over a year. They did monthly "Employee of the Month" awards to acknowledge outstanding status within the company. My coworkers had been nominating me for months trying to get me that honor, but every time the award was handed out it went to one of three people whom nobody could understand how they got it unless they were sleeping with the boss.
They *finally* gave me the award, handed to me by the VP of the region himself, & I was given an official "AttaBoy" for "being a team player".
They gave me the award on Monday. They fired me on Friday. For supposedly not being a team player.
They wanted to give me the bums rush out the back door so nobody would notice, but I made it plain that any attempt by anyone other than myself to handle my insulin pack would be consider attempted murder & I'd be on the phone to the cops so fast it would set their heads on fire.
I cleaned out my desk, dropped the award in the trash, & told my buddy in the next cube over exactly what was happening.
I later learned that over a dozen people filed formal complaints, turned in their walking papers, & left in protest.
"If the person that JUST got the EotM award for being a team player can get fired the same week for supposedly NOT being one, WTF is wrong with you assholes?"
Said ex employer tried to block my unemployment benefits, said protesters came to the hearing to say the company was full of shit, the judge gave me my benefits & bitch slapped my ex employer for being fuckheads.
They claimed I had falsified my time cards. I pointed out that the employees could fill the cards out, but it was the *management* that had to sign off on each one before Accounting would pay us. So if the cards were faked, it wasn't by the employees.
They tried to claim I took too much time off sick. I pointed out that they knew when they hired me that I was insulin dependant diabetic & required frequent doctor visits to maintain my health. When a coworker left to go work elsewhere, my employer dropped all that person's work in MY lap to do as well. Double the work in the same time limitations & they wondered why it impacted my health?
Then they tried to bring up the "not a team player" excuse. Those protesters beat me to the punch to explain about the EotM award given on the Monday of the same week they fired me on Friday for that excuse.
By the time the trial was over, the judge looked about ten seconds from tearing my ex employer a new hole to shit through. It was only the fact that said employer had decided at the last minute to *phone in* rather than show in person as required by the judge that prevented the judge remanding them for being taken out back & beaten the shit out of like a cheap child's pinata.
I think my ex employer is still in business, just no longer in that town. Too many people got QUITE an ear full when said protesters started posting about what a shitty company it was.
My sympathy to the young woman (and she IS young compared to me) whom got fired by IBM.
May your suit nail them to a wall & beat them like a filthy rug for Spring cleaning.
I'm glad that it worked out well for you.
Worryingly, the fact remains, it's still worth it for companies to at least attempt to do that kind of crap. Even if it doesn't work, there's obviously very little to lose for them, and absolutely nothing for the people who actually make the decisions.
"employer had decided at the last minute to *phone in* rather than show in person as required by the judge"
One judge I remember would probably have sent an officer of the court, accompanied by sufficient police as would have been needed, to bring him in to face a charge of contempt of court.
I can’t wait for the day I don’t need these donkeys anymore and I take myself and all my experience out of their shambles.
I worked with two, maybe three good managers in my life. One standout one that really was so talented quit to go into teaching. The other couple of hundred bosses I’ve encountered were absolutely charlatans and riding the support of the people they were supposed to look after.
Back even in the 1920s, 1930s IBM had a revolutionary employment record of taking on people of all sorts of backgrounds. It used to be a model for all others to look up to.
I suppose this is what happens when a company has had a string of poor chairs, CEOs, who really don’t know how to run an engineering business but can put MBA after their names...
"The company replaced him, it is claimed, with younger, less experienced IBM employees" - which might explain why the quality is going down the tubes as well.
However this is a very old problem, and by far not only at IBM. Some 20 years back I attended a seminar led by the CEO of a major international recruitment agency. At Q&A I asked whether any client ever asked for individual excellence in candidates. The answer was "we've never been asked for that".
Only the "Executive" are talented individuals - all other staff are replaceable replicate drones. There's a strong preference for the cheapest drones to run, and "awards" are just a way of keeping the drones quiet. That's not changed in the last 200 years.
I was at Maersk Data when it was bought by IBM in the 00es. I joined a company where the ethos was "get it running, sort the papers after" and left one where there was no coffee in the coffeemaker because manglement could not decide how to post it on the accounts.
Slavery was Slavery, plain and simple. Capitalism implies that the employee gets paid and has some degree of freedom of choice between different employers, theoretically, depending on their skill set.
Perhaps you were being sarcastic? in which case I apologize.
I was being sarcastic, but you do bring up some interesting points.
A modern slave gets paid and buys food and clothes and pays for his dwelling.
An ancient slave got food, clothing and dwelling from the slave master.
The only difference I see is the modern slave gets to choose the slave master.
Someone REALLY doesn't know their history very well.
Although the continuous development of capitalism as a system dates only from the 16th century, antecedents of capitalist institutions existed in the ancient world, and flourishing pockets of capitalism were present during the later European Middle Ages.
At this point, we get into the discussion of what capitalism really is. In the most basic sense, you give me that and I give you money and you take the money to whoever's got the thing you want, there's been a market economy for millennia. There has been very ancient money from 2000 B.C.E. and likely there was money before that. Other concepts that play into capitalism are much newer. Corporations which exist as a shared operation owned in part by many people, as opposed to the organized operations of some powerful people beholden to nobody, is maybe four to five centuries old. Organized stock exchanges are from the late 18th century C.E. Governmental regulations promoting competition are really new, having started around 1850 or so. Which of these four things are central to capitalism? Which ridiculously obvious things did I forget to mention? Everyone is going to have different ideas, so everyone will have different ages.
I think one thing we can point to that was necessary for what we call capitalism is the removal of a government-imposed monopoly or prohibition. This took several forms. In the middle ages, there were guilds who got their permission to restrict who could do what job from some government they viewed as worthy of dictating that. Later, there were laws about what people were allowed to spend money on and how much they could be paid, laws intentionally written to prevent people in lower castes from doing things. Then there were the colonial monopolies where someone got the rights to most of the economic activity in some chunk of the world in return for going there and claiming the rights to own that chunk for the monarch involved. Slavery and a ethnic caste system were similar in that people were born into a situation which the law did not permit them to leave. When this craze ended is a little tricky to estimate, as we still have some government-supported monopolies today, but I think that's a useful point to use when establishing when modern capitalism really became what we think about. At least that's my opinion on how we go about finding our answer.
I didn't get to the next project in my ex company for similar reason. They let go of the exprienced and expensive people and hired cheap newly graguates. They only kept one exprinced guy to babysit the newbies. It's pretty common. Also, no it was not IT company.
I left ibm 10 years ago while they were busy outsourcing all of my team to a certain country. I was totally sick of herding cats, cleaning up baby sick and trying to keep customers happy and on side.
Best thing I did, stress levels dropped and I was actually respected for what I did in my new job.
Nothing that I have seen or heard since has changed my mind...
I've been clean some five years, saw us circling the drain, and got out. Meanwhile, an IBM colleague of mine had been off with stress, macro managed by his boss like he was an Amazon packer. When he got back to work, he was given a PBC3 and put on a PIP, because you know, being told you're a poor performer in a company that sacks you for two grade 3s in a row isn't more stress. It's almost like they were trying to break people. He's out now too.
It happened to me too, my crime was keeping client happy in a different IBM country - other country got the revenue and my own only cross charged my costs. I was given a 3, a PIP and a special PIP manager who in a previous role I'd caught lying to both client and IBM management. He was there to manage me out of the company through gaslighting and bullying. My actual line manager was happy with my work. My only consolation was that after he'd managed me and all others with a certain age/cost profile out, he was shown the door himself.
Past performance is no guarantee of future profitability, as they say in the investment ads.
...last time I was at Incredibly Borked Management (I was there twice, 20 years apart, how things change - the first time was brilliant and it took a great offer for me to leave) the manager had a PBC quota... they had to give one person in their group a PBC3 no matter what. I never had one fortunately.
I'm pleased I quit for a company that was more focused on delivering value to its customers.
I worked for IBM from the early 70s to early 90s as a CE (always felt uncomfortable with engineer in my job title, Brunel would not have approved). We installed, maintained and did the emergency response to the mainframes of many of the major companies in the UK. But we were considered a necessary expense and often felt undervalued, especially when internal documents referred to Sales and System Engineering groups as 'Professionals' and we were just part of Customer Service.
Re-reading the above I may sound a little bitter but I think the IBM of that period was a good company to work for, I only left (redundant at 51) when mainframes were going out of fashion but all I have read of them since seems like a long decline.
"when mainframes were going out of fashion"
And now that's the only tin you can buy from IBM, oddly.
I'm now working in local govt, medium sized enterprise, there's nothing we'd buy from IBM any more. There was an AS/400 here back in the day, IBM desktops / laptops but now there's nothing in the mid range we'd have in the datacentre, and Lenovo do the rest. I really wonder what's going to emerge from the crysalis once all these bright young things have been absorbed? I don't know anyone that uses 'IBM cloud' either,.... where do they make their money?
Licensing. One of the things I did with the current shop I'm at was to review all their DB2 LUW licensing. A bit difficult as management doesn't want to disclose their negotiations but that's common. I did get them to disclose the terms and a few random invoices so it's a nice chunk of change. Multiply that by X number of shops. That still only one product and there's normally more than just DB2 in a shop.
After an upgrade to a new version, this shop never cleans up their old binaries. (They do now!) Those directories contains licenses for each version that IBM uses to determine the amount they bill for. Strictly speaking, they're in the "tivready" directory but you realistically should clean out the old binaries by optionally renaming the directories for a burn in period and then removing them.
So I'm not allowed to disclose how much I saved but given over 65 instances of DB2 production systems with multiple licenses for each version, much of them the Enterprise licensing, and 38K employees using the systems, I'm sure you get an idea. There's also about 150 test systems and that's another can of worms.
Suffice to say IBM isn't giving any of that money back. Nor did I get much recognition as this cost was swept under the rug as "renegotiations". SSDD. I'm cleaning up Oracle licenses not but that's fish from a different ocean.
Life as a consultant goes on. Kill me now.
Back even in the 1920s, 1930s IBM had a revolutionary employment record of taking on people of all sorts of backgrounds....
Back then skilled work was done by a minority of the workforce. Nowadays skilled workers are almost the equivalent of factory workers. It's not IBM that changed, but the context around the workplace.
The post should be titled "What the Hell Has Happend to ________?" where you get to fill in the blanks, pick your corporation of choice. IBM's handling of employees is SoP for US corporations and its actually one of the principal reasons why "Make America Great Again" is never going to be much more than a slogan. The disconnect starts at the boardroom; the Guru of All Things Capitalist, Milton Freidman, taught that the one and only purpose of corporate management was to "enhance shareholder value" -- in other words, to persue dividens and stock price rises. Which, coincidentally, also maximizes executive compensation. The problem with this approach is that it loses sight with what the business actually does -- so long as the business makes money its not thought to be important how this is done or how steps taken today might impact the future.
Its a well known story. The problem, though, is that word gets around and sooner or later the corporation can't hire talent because it has nothing to offer except a medicre salary, an overbearing management culture and chronic employee insecurity. It uses outsourcing and aquisitions to cover its tracks for a time but it won't work, its in a downward spiral with the end is never in doubt. The only unknown is "how fast?".
(If I sound a bit cynical its because this has been the reality of my working life, first in England and then in the US. I've only avoided the worst of it by working at startups; this is a different type of gamble but its still vulnerable to the excesses of 'financial engineering'. I've been relatively luck but I've seen the impact this corporate mindset has had on friends, colleagues and relations. Our national goal should be to encourage the Chinese to embrace this kind of rot because if they don't they're going to end up wiping the floor with us.)
> The EEOC findings came two weeks after IBM CEO Arvind Krishna, who took over in April, announced the retirement of Diane Gherson, IBM SVP and chief of human resources since 2013.
IBM went on to say: Diane is a valued and much respected member of the HR team here at IBM. She retires, aged 29, after a long career with us and she plans to spend her one year of retirement relaxing in her garden before moving on to The Next Cycle.
"It boggles the mind to see anything IBM filed under “cloud”."
Then stay away from IBM financial announcements, if you didn't already realise, everything IBM spend is cloud related in their battle to outspend the big 3 cloud providers.
20 year old data centre supporting legacy systems that are migrating to one of the big 3 cloud providers (for <insert country name><insert government department name here>) to escape IBM? Clearly the data centre must be a cloud service....
"IBM's employment actions have always been based on skills, not age,"
Bullshit! I honestly can't comprehend how the slimy bastards that come out with this crap can sleep at night. There was a massive skills shortage when I was there. You couldn't get hold of the people who knew anything because they were all voluntarily leaving or being made redundant. Some of the customer calls were quite frankly embarrassing.
And as for 'hours spent learning', I lost count of the number of times there were emails for mandatory education spanning weeks. Learning plans that had embedded learning plans on top of other content. And the time they officially allocated was something like 40 hours. Nowhere near enough time.
Its all about money. How cheap can you go on the resource, how big a margin can you make on the account, what will the customer put up with. Its a fine balancing act that has NOTHING to do with the skill set required to perform the tasks at hand.
I remember an IBM that was a bunch of stodgy old guys who wore suits every day. And that's everybody, even the guy they sent to crawl into the mainframe was going to show up wearing a dark suit and white shirt.
Age discrimination at IBM was against the young, not the old. People retired from IBM and got pensions.
Now they're just full of young idiots.
I would never have called my dad, stodgy, but he was one of those IBM-for-lifer's who joined IBM in his early 20's and was with them over 30 years when he retired. At the time, instead of laying off older workers, they would offer nice early retirement packages. My dad took one of those packages and had a happy retirement spanning more years than he worked there.
He got out just in time, just as the Harvard MBAs were taking over. That's what happened to IBM.
Big tech companies hire thousands at a time -- but they also fire people at scale. My second day at HP, they laid off more people (by two orders of magnitude) than the total headcount of every other employer I had worked for up to that time.
Stalin (allegedly) said that "a single death is a tragedy; a million deaths is a statistic." Layoffs obviously don't equal murder, and I don't mean to imply that they do. But I understood the underlying principle a lot more clearly when swathes of nearby cube dwellers disappeared in one fell swoop, campus buildings closed & sold, etc. with no mention on the local TV news and a single bullet-list paragraph in the business section of the newspaper.
A few years later, I became a statistic as well.
(AC, out of an abundance of caution.)
About 10 years ago, instead of waiting to become a statistic, I quit direct employment and began remote contract work. I like picking my projects, schedule with no more worries about commute or wardrobe maintenance. On the down side, no benefits or security but not a big deal in my case. I already owned my house and had saved/invested compulsively my entire adult life. I still put in a few hours every week for that old employer.
On the other hand many co-workers did not fair well within the five years after my departure. I believe that close to 95% of employees over the age of fifty were let go. Along the way I noticed that many positions were eliminated as new job descriptions were being created that were very similar but.. not exactly. All those new open positions have since been filled by fresh college graduates.
In general the older employees cost more and tended to be harder to control. Younger employees lack inexperience but they tend to have more energy and lower wages. If I were running a business with an aging workforce, I'd probably be tempted to swap them out too.
What I wonder is if legislation (or maybe even unions) will ever be able to catch up with companies these types of practices? I'm leaning towards NOT.. at least in the U.S.
"In general the older employees cost more and tended to be harder to control."
Certainly after a few trips round the (de)motivation course most people with a working brain recognise the BS for what it is. They also are experienced in whatever it is they do and don't really need control. The only people to whom this is a problem are those whose salaries and/or self-esteem depending on controlling them.
"Younger employees lack inexperience"
"but they tend to have more energy and lower wages."
Energy is a trade-off with the efficiency that knowing the job brings and wages for them are a trade-off with the payments for the manglers whose sole role is to tell those who already know what they're doing what to do.
"If I were running a business with an aging workforce, I'd probably be tempted to swap them out too."
Experience matters. I went on-site to upgrade a system and IBM had been flying 60+ people in every week for 3 months to develop a solution. While there I talked to the head developer and he was explaining a problem they were having and in less than an hour determined their whole approach would never work and they would have to start over. To them I was just the operations tech (but I had worked in development for 15 years before that) .Well the old guy obviously knows nothing so they went on as is. I brought it up to the project manager and 6 weeks later to shut me up they called the chief scientist who told them the same thing - they fundamentally misunderstood how the product worked and their approach would never work. Do the math - that's close to 30k hours at say 125/hour? Do you think IBM credited the customer for that? I left IBM to build server farms that ran for years w/o downtime. When IBM contracted me back for their cloud operations the new guys in charge had no experience and their cloud systems wouldn't stay up for more than a week w/o crashing. These days most IBM products have been sold off to HLC even if the brand name hasn't changed. IBM is just a big staff augmentation and service company these days.
"Big tech companies hire thousands at a time -- but they also fire people at scale."
This has a hint of big company white wash. Yes they lose a lot of people but it is how they lose and gain people that is the real issue.
In a good company, employees generally leave because they either can't develop or they have an issue with their manager. i.e. its not about the company
For the likes of IBM, you generally leave because the company gets rid of you or they make it too unpleasant to continue working for that company. And it's not an individual but a significant parts of teams. And the losses are balanced out by gains from TUPEing employees over as part of a new outsourcing deal or acquisition. And next quarter will be more of the same. And each cycle results in more knowledge walking out the door until the customer realises IBM isn't the answer, its the problem.
I was once told by a....really *blush* yeah in an elevator in 90 I was told by an IBM regional VP, Woman, in the elevator:
"Never, ever, let them make you cut your hair."
(I was 18 training on the AS400/PS2 ... And fucking Token Ring)
Because of her, I've kept my hair long in the industry.
Another fun story: At WiReD I had meeting with HP and IBM becausre I needed some not SUN servers. HP showed up (being SilliValley) in shorts and Berkenstocks, IBM showed up looking like the Blues Brothers. I bought my servers from HP.
The first ageism I encountered was at an interview at Dell. First question: "You're 32. The average age here is 27 - do you really think you could fit in?"
Well, not now!
I always thought of IBM as better. It was once. I was made redundant from my first job, and an IBM pal asked me how long I'd worked there. Five years. "So at least you'll have your five months redundancy money."
No, four weeks.
I'm sorry to learn MBAs have ruined the old girl.
I heartily recommend working in Germany or the Netherlands if you get the chance, their management style is why they outperform us.
My first job was with a Dutch company. They were wonderful to work for. But the UK part was given increasing autonomy and UK/US-style sales-led MBA madness took root instead. It went through a fairly brief phase of rapidly becoming a horrible place to work before it was no longer viable and the remains were bought by a US competitor. Which was a US-based company who had a similar ethos to the Dutch one but by then were already a sinking ship thanks to some MBA taking over the helm and crashing it into an iceberg. At our induction speech, the suit said "out favourite word is 'paradigm'", so one could see from the outset where we were headed.
Laurence Fishburne was asked about his new comedy,"Oldish" on the Colbert show.
Colbert : I'm 56, am I oldish?
Fishburne : Well, if you have CRS then you're probably oldish.
Colbert : What's CRS?
Fishburne : Can't remember shit. If you've got CSS -
Colbert : What's that?
Fishburne : Can't see shit.
Just because I'm old doesn't mean I don't appreciate a good joke. I just have to post it to a website so I can find it again.
I have been cut off from the internet several times in the past year simply because I can't afford NHS specs without claiming state benefits, and the cheapo shop I bought magnifying glasses from was closed due to the plague. I get your meaning. I can see shit, but to look at at 3.5 mag. burns my brain.
Plus my last remaining front tooth is flapping in the wind. Can't get that fixed on the NHS today, thank god for facemasks.
"former IBM employees sought to invalidate a portion of their separation agreements in which they waived the right to bring collective legal action against the company."
I really hope they succeed on appeal. Such clauses, and NDAs in separation agreements, seem to be a violation of very basic civil rights. I don't see a Trumpian Supreme Court agreeing, though.
After almost 15 years at IBM, having always exceeded expectations on at least 2 categories on every year end review, having been awarded the OTA award as well as a Best of IBM award, and a patent assigned to IBM too, after a reorganization under the new CEO I was given this May options to separate or relocate to a place I don't want to live in. On paper I am times more expensive than an equivalent architect in other geographies and I am pretty convinced this was the reason, not my tender age.
To be fair, I was not fired and I was even offered a modest but still quite decent separation package. So no beef with IBM, businesses is business and their results are flagging. With retrospecrive, I am thankful for the nudge to look after myself. I interviewed for positions that paid at least 8 and up to 45% more, and landed a new job I love with a great team of people for an organization I deeply respect, a few miles from where I live. I will miss many of my former coworkers that I have grown to see as friends but they will keep in touch.
How inhumane modern companies have become.
Young = cheap, older = "worthlessly" expensive, is an equation which doesn't balance. Inexperienced young people make mistakes and need to gain the learning and experience to actually be able to do their job properly.
By the time someone has gained that knowledge and experience (and a few more candles on their birthday cakes), it's only by then that they can actually do the job properly and well, and efficiently. That's exactly the wrong point to throw out skilled employees and have to start with a bunch on untrained monkeys all over again.
There's also another point. Age creeps up on all of us, even slimy personnel managers who instead use vile Orwellian terms like "human resources". In 15, 20, 25 years' time, it could be any of them who is also being cast aside. If "someone" thinks that the only useful and skilled employees are those between 25 and 40 (a total nonsense) then we need a retirement age of 40, and pensions to match. But that neither makes sense nor is going to happen.
I worked for IBM's cloud operations and the younger/newer guys on the offshore team were trained while the older contract staff were not. The cloud manager came out straight and said she didn't want to do 'on the job' training on customer systems - but the younger folks were provided training. But they still lack experience - they didn't know what they didn't know. Then came the layoffs and guess who was targeted. Of course older employers with more experience earn more so were the first to go. I was a technical expert who built server farms elsewhere that exceeded five 9's - IBM not only doesn't have redundancy people assume they could barely keep them up and in one year the cloud churn rate was close to 50% - but layoff the technicians and keep the managers.. :roll eyes:
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