IBM Systems Lab Services Is Helping to Break the Bias
3 min read
Why it’s important to not only celebrate women and their achievements, but to actively reflect on how to continue to break the bias going forward.
At the start of my IT services career in 1997, I worked as a systems programmer. I was the only woman on my team. Over a decade later, having joined IBM, I took a role in a software development lab. There were two women on my team — me and the receptionist.
Still, the role of women in technology had progressed. For one thing, at IBM, I felt supported by my colleagues and higher-ups. But there was still significant room for evolution. So, I spoke up for more diversity on our team. Six weeks later, we ran our first Women in Technology event, which led to hiring more women programmers and more women in leadership roles.
Now, as a leader on an IBM Systems Lab Services team, I am proud to be spearheading our efforts to support the women in our organization and around the world as we celebrate International Women’s Day and its theme for 2022: #BreakTheBias.
Today, 4 of our 13 senior leaders are women, across U.S. and international teams. Recent women hires include consultants in Japan and China and business development professionals in the UK and South Africa. And two of our last three VPs were women. We have built a team welcoming women workers and leaders at all levels — and we’re not stopping there.
To be human is to be biased. Even well-intentioned decisions can be flawed by cognitive shortcuts, judgments and emotions or social pressure. Countering that bias takes conscious effort, and not just in yourself. If you have the support and privilege to do so, speaking up like I did is one example of how to put this year’s theme into action.
A prerequisite to breaking bias is critical thinking and open dialogue, and that is only achieved if team members know they are in a secure and inclusive space. For the fourth year in a row, with support from the top down, IBM Systems Lab Services has come together globally — across a diverse spectrum of gender, ethnicity and orientation — to create that space.
Bias exists everywhere and affects everyone, and it is seen too often in the workplace. A direct example of bias is the gender pay gap, which stubbornly persists. Another is the wide range of microagressions that may escape official notice but certainly affect marginalized groups’ comfort and authority in the workplace.
Workplace bias is even a bottom-line problem. According to Deloitte’s Inclusion Survey, 68% of people reported that experiencing workplace bias resulted in decreased productivity, and 85% reported that it negatively affected their happiness, confidence and well-being.
A more gender-balanced workplace is a start, but it’s not enough to break bias. A recent study by Harvard Business Review examined bias across four women-dominated industries. The results showed that bias is too deep-rooted into our systems to be weeded out by simply adding more women to an organization.
This is why it’s incumbent on those with gender privilege to speak up when they witness bias, for leaders to train themselves to listen and take appropriate action, and for team managers to foster community-sharing initiatives.
IBM takes action
Well known for its longstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion, IBM understands that differences in gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity and physical ability are what build and empower an organization.
I’m proud to be a leader at IBM Systems Lab Services, which has a history worldwide of recruiting women into technical, managerial and leadership roles. Our 900+ experts spanning over 163 countries help build next-generation IT infrastructures and solve business challenges. We do this best when we represent our clients fully and can bring our diverse backgrounds and experiences to the table.
The act of coming together year after year to participate in the themes of International Women’s Day has strengthened our space and provided a necessary gateway for personal involvement. Every year, the community representation for this initiative grows voluntarily because our team members know they have a space to make their voices heard.
IBM understands that it’s important to not only celebrate women and their achievements, but to actively reflect on how to continue to break the bias going forward.
Share your experiences
We asked our team to share their commitments to breaking the bias and how they do it.
IBM Systems Lab Services team members from around the global share their commitments to #BreakTheBias for International Women's Day 2022.
Share this video and let us know what #BreakTheBias means to you.
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