Diversity and Inclusion

Why IBM is Urging Congress to Pass the Equality Act

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Equality and fairness are American values.

Creating an equal and open workplace, where every employee is free to bring their whole self to work without fear of discrimination, should be the goal of every business. For more than a century, IBM has been a progressive leader in diversity, advocacy and innovation. It’s part of the fabric of our company.

This fundamental commitment is why our President, Chairman and CEO Ginni Rometty sent a letter to Congress this week unequivocally voicing support for the Equality Act and urging lawmakers to pass it without delay. Rometty sent this letter on behalf of the Business Roundtable member CEOs, representing the business community across the country.

The Equality Act would amend existing civil rights laws to provide consistent and explicit protections for LGBT+ employees, including ensuring that they wouldn’t be discriminated against by employers for being who they are. IBM supports this legislation because no one should have to hide who they are at work and shouldn’t fear bias, discrimination, or inequality in the workplace, or elsewhere.

Cultivating a diverse and inclusive work environment is the right thing to do; it’s also good for business. A McKinsey study reported that companies with leadership teams that are more diverse outperform their competitors financially. A study from the Williams Institute found that companies with LGBT+-inclusive policies were linked to improved workplace relationships, greater job satisfaction and increased job commitment. Diversity allows companies to bring new and fresh perspectives to the table that enrich our lives and improve outcomes.

It’s easy to champion the idea of diversity and inclusion – it’s harder to actually create a culture that achieves it. At IBM, that’s exactly what we’ve strived to build for decades. Throughout our history, we have time and time again tirelessly championed policies that accommodate all our employees, because we recognize that our strength is in our diversity; that different perspectives and people make us better and more well-rounded.

We began our work towards inclusivity in 1984, when we added sexual orientation to our employee nondiscrimination policy. More recently, in 2017, we were proud to stand against legislation in Texas that would have discriminated against the LGBT+ community. The bill—a mirror of North Carolina’s bathroom bill that we similarly fought—would have targeted LGBT+ youth simply for being who they are. We are proud that we — alongside many other allies — were successful in defeating the bill.

Standing up for diversity and inclusion in the workplace is part of who we are as a company and have been since our founding. It’s the kind of example we want to set. Passing the Equality Act will cement protections for everyone in the workplace, and signal to employees across the country that they can come to work exactly as they are, without fear — just with pride.

-Tia Silas, Vice President, Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer, IBM


Read the full letter here.

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