For more than a century, IBM has viewed the diversity of cultures, people, thoughts and ideas as critical to our success in the marketplace.
Because our diversity is reflective of the global marketplace, it is integral to our corporate character. And our enduring commitment to diversity is one of the key reasons we can credibly say that IBM is one of the world’s leading globally integrated enterprises.
Today we also understand that diversity goes beyond fair hiring practices and protection for all employee constituents. It also includes a focus on how those disparate pieces fit together to create an innovative, integrated whole. And we call this approach “inclusion.”
What inclusion means to us as a company is that while our differences shape who we are as individual IBMers, our shared corporate culture and company values remain central to our mutual success. IBMers around the world work in an environment where diversity—including diversity of thought—is the norm, which yields a commitment to creating client innovation in every part of our business.
Simply put, it’s what we do together that sets us apart.
Andres T. Tapia
“Diversity is the mix. Inclusion is making the mix work.”
President, Diversity Best Practices
Global Diversity and Inclusion Summit 2011
As we refine our employment and leadership practices to enable IBM to continue to attract and develop global thought leaders, it is imperative that IBM’s diversity strategy enables the organization to meet its business objectives and talent requirements. To that end, late last year we held one of our recurring summits on Global Diversity and Inclusion. More than 100 IBM leaders from around the world gathered to help develop a global diversity strategy that would align with our human resources strategy and support execution of IBM’s 2015 business roadmap.
During the summit, the team committed to address the implications for the next generation of diversity by broadening the inclusion strategy to make it truly global. That work includes embracing multicultural identities and ensuring that there are demonstrative business benefits in the areas of recruiting, talent and leadership development.
Here are several of the Diversity Summit recommendations and insights:
- Work with IBM business units and geographies to develop integrated diversity and inclusion goals and programs to ensure IBM’s workforce is globally and culturally diverse and inclusive
- Engage the existing Diversity Networking Groups to expand their mission and recharter them to become Business Resource Groups that also support local talent/business objectives
- Engage each constituency group and council to review defined current structures, practices and priorities for alignment with new diversity and inclusion strategic objectives.
- Establish a Global Inclusion Council
Helping our Constituents Thrive
Since its beginning more than a hundred years ago, IBM has understood that diversity is the bridge between the workplace and the marketplace. And, success with our clients begins with success in the workplace. Below are some examples of how IBM supported constituent groups throughout the company in 2011:
LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) Workplace Equality
IBM has a long history when it comes to LGBT workplace equality. As early as 1984, IBM included sexual orientation in our nondiscrimination policy. In 1995, a LGBT executive task force was established. Today, that task force is known as the Global LGBT Council, and is focused on making IBM a safe and desirable workplace for all people. In 2011, Watson, a super-computing server, stunned the world on the game show Jeopardy!, using deep analytics and an understanding of natural language to answer complex questions. The project was conceived by Charles Lickel, one of the first IBM “out” executives.
IBM is also a sponsor of Out & Equal Work-place Advocates. Out & Equal works to protect and empower employees to be productive and successful so they can support themselves and their families, and contribute to achieving a world free of discrimination. IBM leverages Out & Equal’s annual global summit as a development opportunity for our high-potential LGBT employees. There, along with 2,500 employees from other major corporations from 20 countries, they have the opportunity to network, develop leadership skills and team with other LGBT employees and executives to share workplace best practices.
IBM recently won Out & Equal’s Workplace Excellence Award, and in 2011 Claudia Woody, Vice President and Managing Director of Intellectual Property Licensing, won Out & Equal’s Trailblazer award.
Advancement of Women
IBM has achieved many milestones in support of the advancement of women. In 1943, Ruth Leach, IBM’s first female executive, was promoted to vice president. In 1989, Fran Allen was named IBM’s first female technical Fellow. And in 2011, Ginni Rometty was named President and CEO. This year, in honor of International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month, we celebrated the economic, political and social achievements of women—past, present, and future—by hosting a series of events across the globe. These events included The Global Marathon, a full week of events designed to connect women in engineering and technology around the world to network, share ideas and initiate action that will change the world.
Persons with Disabilities
Last year, IBM’s Persons with Disabilities (PWD) council leaders sat down with eight IBMers with disabilities from around the globe for a “reverse mentoring” session. The small session was then opened up to IBM employees from Canada, China, Brazil, France, Germany, India and the United States to share their employment experiences with PWD council leaders—both the positive aspects and the areas for improvement.
The first-of-its-kind seminar addressed some of the actual and perceived barriers PWD face as they enter the workplace:
- Lack of education and training
- Extra costs of getting to work, including transportation and medical care
- Extra need for flexibility
- Loss of disability income and healthcare if a fulltime job is taken
The seminar also addressed tough questions: How do your colleagues respond to you? Is it difficult for you to travel on business? In your part of the world, how does your culture approach people with disabilities? What response do you get when you meet IBM clients?
This thoughtful discussion resulted in a powerful PWD initiative called In Their Shoes, which includes globally accessible video modules on accessibility and innovation, client attitudes toward people with disabilities, mentoring and career advancement and recruiting—all geared toward highlighting both existing and future ways IBM can help our PWD community thrive.
Acknowledgment of IBM’s commitment and accomplishments in supporting diversity has come from a broad spectrum of organizations and publications.
Leadership in Work Life Flexibility
The global business environment is increasingly competitive. If IBM is to maintain its leadership position as one of the world’s top globally integrated enterprises, it’s important to create an environment that offers employees not only financial security but also autonomy, meaningful work and the opportunity for development and advancement. Additionally, flexibility is a cornerstone of our employment value proposition; IBMers need time to cultivate personal interests and integrate the demands of the job with the demands of their personal lives.
To address both employee and business needs, IBM has developed six flexibility principles. These flexibility principles can be adapted by country as needed based on legislation, local custom and other factors.
IBM’s Six Flexibility Principles
- The Enterprise does not stop: In a globally integrated enterprise, the enterprise never stops working. Somewhere in the world, IBMers are working on solutions for our clients.
- Balancing of Needs: IBM is committed to providing its employees the greatest degree of flexibility while balancing the needs of our clients, our business, team effectiveness and the individual IBM employee.
- Trust & Personal Responsibility: Consistent with our core value of “trust and personal responsibility in all relationships,” IBM expects managers and employees to make decisions, including those about flexibility options, consistent with this value and to demonstrate personal responsibility to ensure business commitments are met.
- Range of Options: Flexible work options are a vehicle for IBM to meet the needs of our Global clients and can be employee or management initiated and approved based upon the needs of the business, clients or individuals.
- Understanding Differences: IBMers must consider the needs of our global stakeholders—clients, customers, colleagues and the communities in which we operate. Each of us must take responsibility to explore, understand and reflect differences in culture, customs, time of day, holidays, language, business requirements, the personal needs of stakeholders and the impact of our decisions on business dealings.
- Focus on Results: IBMers must focus on results, setting goals and measuring performance with an eye toward providing an outstanding experience for IBM customers, clients and employees.
Every IBMer is considered a Global IBMer. That means each employee must be able to seamlessly collaborate across borders and business units. Leading and working in multicultural teams to solve complex client problems has become the norm as IBMers do business around the world.
IBM sponsors an annual Cultural Intelligence Week to help increase the cultural intelligence of the entire organization—from the most senior executive to the most recently hired IBMer.
The focus of 2011 Cultural Intelligence week was to promote cultural understanding by building a sense of community and belonging that transcends geographic borders. IBM managers committed at least one hour of their time to participate in one or more of the cultural understanding activities, and rated their cultural understanding as “improved” after participating. In addition to an all-employee webcast, the seminar resulted in creation of a cultural intelligence toolkit for sellers, and an online tool which contains reference information on how to better conduct business in countries around the world.
“Like all accomplishments in the world, things happen because of persistence, dedication, focus on driving to an outcome. And in the time that I’ve been with IBM, when we do set our minds on doing something, we can accomplish it.”
Senior Vice President, IBM Software Solutions Group and PWD Executive Advisor
Diversity Network Groups
Within IBM, we have more than 230 Diversity Network Groups (DNGs)—volunteer employee groups that come together with the goal of enhancing IBM’s success through meeting, teaming, networking, mentoring and coaching, and enhancing recruitment and welcoming. In 2011 as part of the Diversity & Inclusion Summit, participants concluded that we need to expand the role of DNGs in helping drive business and talent success. The DNG program is open to all IBM employees who wish to establish a group based on ethnicity, race, gender, sexual orientation or other constituency group—anywhere on the planet.
Featured IBM Initiatives
Celebration of Service
During IBM's centennial in 2011, the Celebration of Service honored our employees, retirees, families and friends in their commitment to volunteer service. More than 3.1 million volunteer hours were pledged by 300,000+ volunteers.Learn More
Smarter Cities Challenge
The Smarter Cities Challenge is a competitive grant program awarding $50 million worth of services and expertise over three years to help 100 cities around the globe address a wide range of challenges.Learn More