The Christian Science Monitor

Gender equality as ‘trade secret’? Businesses awaken to a long-dawning idea.

Jen Jones, a data scientist with IBM's human resources department in Armonk, N.Y., works with a team trying to ensure that "everyone's heard" and included in a global workforce of about 380,000 employees in 170 countries.She found the job after first participating in an IBM internship program for women who have technical skills but have been out of the work force for two years or longer. Source: Ann Hermes/Staff

In the tech industry, “non-compete” agreements are not uncommon; they prevent employees from job-hopping to rival firms and taking inside knowledge with them. But here’s a novel twist: The latest tussle of this sort is not about someone with key technical information.

It’s about a woman promoting gender equality.

When IBM lost its chief diversity officer, Lindsay-Rae McIntyre, to rival Microsoft earlier this month, Big Blue went to court to stop her working for a year.

Ms. McIntyre, IBM said in a statement, “was at the center of highly confidential and competitively sensitive information that has fueled IBM’s success" in diversity and inclusion. 

It seems that ways to recruit talented women, then retain and promote them, have become proprietary business data, just like more traditional trade secrets. In the eyes of a growing number of companies such as IBM, gender

Pressure for progressLuring talent back to workWorkplace culture as a #MeToo solutionNurturing more female executives

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