We’ve looked before at the issue of genetic testing and employment, most recently here and here. Now, at least one company, IBM, has committed to protecting its employees’ privacy by explicitly avoiding the use of genetic information.
In a (very) recent New York Times article, IBM announced its decision to ignore such results in both its hiring practices and when dealing with its various workplace benefits.
On the one hand, genetic testing can be a valuable tool in assessing risk, diagnosing conditions, and finding cures. The concern is, of course, that the information can also be used to discriminate against folks who have markers for certain illnesses or proclivities, but of course have no control over their genetic makeup. By being the first out of the gate on this issue, IBM has set the bar. It’ll be interesting to watch how other companies in the tech sector, and then in the business arena in general, choose to address this now high-profile issue.
Kudo’s to IBM.
UPDATE: Jack from the HealtNex blog has additional information on this story.