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Microsoft’s New Diversity Officer Sued by Former Company, IBM


Earlier this week, Microsoft announced that Lindsay-Rae McIntyre has been hired as its next chief diversity officer (CDO). In her role, McIntyre will “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,” Microsoft says.

“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. “I look forward to advancing that agenda and contributing to the foundation Microsoft is building.”

Prior to joining Microsoft, McIntyre spent more than 20 years with IBM as an HR leader. And then in the role of CDO and Vice President of HR. Prior to joining IBM, McIntyre was a Morehead Scholar at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree with highest honors. She also attended Duke University, where she graduated from the Cross-Continent MBA program at the Fuqua School for Business.

IBM responded by suing its former executive, alleging she violated a one-year non-competitive agreement. McIntyre, who “abruptly resigned to compete against IBM,” was in possession of highly confidential and sensitive information about IBM’s diversity strategies, hiring targets, technologies, and innovations, IBM said in the lawsuit filed in a New York federal court on Monday.

Bloomberg cited a court filing in which attorneys for McIntyre describe the non-compete clause as overbroad. “IBM surprisingly seeks a draconian temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction 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,” the attorneys wrote.

Microsoft said in a statement, “We’re pleased that Lindsey-Rae decided to join Microsoft, both to continue to grow in her career and so she, her husband and their three young children could be closer to her parents and extended family on the West Coast. We have no interest in any of IBM’s confidential information.”

In a declaration filed with the court, McIntyre says, “For diversity work to be effective, it has to be specific and customized to the company and workforce at issue. My work at Microsoft must be centered on Microsoft’s corporate culture and its internal goals as an organization, which are entirely distinct from IBM’s culture and goals. Similarly, inclusion focuses on what it feels like to belong and is entirely focused on management and culture. Therefore, while the work that IBM (or any other technology company) does on these issues may be interesting, it is not practically useful in my role at Microsoft.”

A hearing is set for February 22. In the meantime, U.S. District Judge Vincent L. Briccetti has temporarily barred McIntyre from working at Microsoft. We’ve contacted Microsoft for comment.

Megha Shah
Megha Shah
A dreamer, traveler, aspiring entrepreneur and a bookworm beyond repair, Megha Shah is extremely fond of writing and has been doing so since she was a child. Apart from being a part-time writer, Megha is currently in college, pursuing B. Com. (Hons). Megha is an ardent follower of ‘Hardship, Hustle and Heart’ and firmly believes in the power of hard work and destiny!

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