What Happens When You Bring All Diversity Communities Together

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IBM UK’s Business Resource Groups (BRG) host an event to bring all diversity communities together for the first time. Here are some highlights from Vincent Cipollone, IBM UK’s Corporate Development Executive.

By Vincent Cipollone


“There’s no such thing as a single-issue struggle. 

Because we don’t lead single-issue lives.”

On 5 September 2018, I had the great honour of emceeing a landmark event for IBM UK – “You Can’t Be What You Can’t See” – an event which brought together all our diversity communities for the first time, and inspired many to reconsider their role in creating an inclusive environment while underscoring the power and strength of working together.

The afternoon saw a combination of truly inspirational external speakers who challenged our traditional ways of thinking about intersectionality and the roles that inclusion allies play; Business Resource Group (BRG) leaders raising awareness of our UK BRGs; and the active engagement of participants through Design Thinking breakouts.

For me, it may seem overly simple. But at its core, the event re-enforced the messages that each of us has our own identity and individual diversity. Everyone has their own perspective and own journey. It’s not enough to tick some boxes and gather data about numbers of disabled, LGBT+ or black professionals. The important agenda is the discussion—asking the right questions and valuing the input and contributions of others in creating a culture of inclusion within the organisation. We all have challenges and issues in our lives. We all have unconscious bias and privilege in our own way. But by being open, communicating and encouraging others to do likewise, we not only understand but more importantly, elevate our ability to make a difference.

Just because we may think that the fight for inclusion has been won for some, we shouldn’t give up the fight for inclusion for all. This is why, as network groups and allies of inclusion, we need to carry on collaborating in the future, ensuring we never give up the fight for inclusion for our least included friends and colleagues. Especially considering none of us lead single-issue lives.

Here, I’d like to share some of my favourite highlights from the day:

Leadership – IBM Intro from Bill Kelleher, Country General Manager UK & Ireland

Demonstrating the importance of inclusion, Bill kicked off by stressing the importance of inclusion as part of our corporate mission.

Impactful – Inspiring Video

They “Do You Judge A Book By It’s Coverprovided inspiration to our planning committee and helped to get us thinking about why we were there, and more importantly, the role that each of us play in creating an inclusive environment—as part of a BRG or more generally as an Ally of Inclusion. (I highly recommend the two-minute investment of time to watch the video.)

Inspirational – Chloe Davies Address

As a black woman who identifies as bisexual, a working mother and someone who has bravely shared her experiences with mental health issues in the past, Chloe Davies knows what it’s like to be in the minority. As Deputy Director for Community Engagement with Pride in London and now also as Relationship & Experience Manager for Diversity Role Models, she’s harnessed those experiences in working to make our society more inclusive. Chloe’s powerful speech was truly inspirational – an individual I could have listened to all day.

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Thought-Provoking – Panel Event

Chloe was then joined by other distinguished Diversity & Inclusion experts to explore a series of thought-provoking and sometimes uncomfortable topics, all dispersed with some really good fun.

Personal – IBM closing remarks with Tosca Colangeli, General Manager, Global Technology Services, UK & Ireland

To wrap the session up, I was delighted to invite Tosca to the stage, not just as an Executive Sponsor for UK EAGLE but as a massive ally for all strands of diversity.

Walking away from the event, it was clear to me that by connecting the different Business Resource Groups—BAME, Connecting Women, EAGLE, People with Disabilities, Carers and Military Service Community—we continue to demonstrate our ongoing commitment and emphasis on the importance of inclusion in IBM.

Because together, we truly are stronger.


Stay connected by joining the IBM Talent Network ! 

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