Redefining Responsibility to Others in 2020

by Michelle Fang

This year has been nothing near normal — I’m sure you’ve heard that to the point of adage by now. For me, I finished my last semester of college virtually in my childhood bedroom, and started my career at IBM without having ever set foot in the office. But this isn’t about just me — this is about how far we’ve all come this year and our continual dedication to care for others.

I’ve been thinking, what if this year was not the worst year in the books, but the most important year? A year so raw and unsettling, it demanded that we could no longer be silent or overlook the injustices of our society. It demanded that we step up to the change we wanted to see in the world.

Since March, we’ve witnessed a range of emotions we hadn’t or nearly hadn’t experienced before. Frustration ran rampant from not being able to purchase essentials, yet that was already the daily outrage from pharmaceutical price gouging or inaccessible food assistant programs. Millions took the to the street rallying the Black Lives Matter movement, after a video recording ignited attention to the long standing history of racial injustice. All to say — this year has challenged us to empathize in new ways. And for Gen Z like me, it’s our first experience of this scale and it teaches us the significance of playing a part in the larger community. We are so interconnected and, to an extent, equalized from this sweeping global pandemic.

I am incredibly grateful that at IBM, giving back through CSR is the crux of our core values and principles even in our new virtual setting. I was able to participate in the IBM 48in48 event, where we worked with a non-profit in Maryland to build out their website, create graphics and branding, and ultimately, tell their story to the public. Although traditionally an in-person event, 48in48 transformed into an entirely virtual event connecting participants globally. The three-month process from meeting the non-profit and hearing their mission/COVID impacts to delivering a website and branding collateral they loved was truly a rewarding experience. Amid service, I was able to find shared values and spaces with colleagues, enabled by virtual collaboration tools like Webex and Mural.

From the 48in48 event, I realize that this is only going to be the start of re-imagining and re-thinking our responsibility to others: to the business, our clients, and individuals. We’ve already done so with remote work, and now with giveback and CSR. I am sure we will continue to seek new ways to use our skills to serve others and amplify our impact — all with a renewed sense of purpose and mission.

As we eagerly enter 2021 with high hopes for a better year ahead, I remind myself of our collective drive to help others and our role beyond pixels on a computer screen. I am excited to be a part of an organization that demonstrates resilience in helping and impacting others even in the digital ways of today.

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