Employee Inclusion

Employee Inclusion

For more than 100 years, IBM has understood that diversity is the bridge between the workplace and the marketplace. We know that success with our clients begins with success in the workplace. And as we innovate and grow, we continue to focus on our core corporate values to guide us.

Over the years, IBM has responded to the kinds of challenges some parts of the world are still grappling with today—where women continue to struggle for a safe and harassment-free work environment; where lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people lack legal recognition and feel unsafe; and where people with disabilities are denied equal access to employment opportunities due to lacking accessibility standards or discrimination.

“At IBM, diversity is integrated into our business strategy. Diversity is essential, in the same way we view innovation as essential for our business and clients. As a company that conducts business in more than 170 countries, our belief in diversity enables employees to develop their full potential, so in turn, IBM can support clients with talent that represents true diversity of thought.” Belinda Tang, vice president of leadership and diversity, IBM

As we approach decisions and negotiations on expanding IBM operations around the world, our client teams and business leaders are clear about how we conduct ourselves in the world of business and the global community. Rather than be deterred by different cultures or beliefs, we share our beliefs so that we can conduct business within any country that is aligned with our global corporate values and employment policies. IBM’s willingness to take on issues of equity, fairness, and equal opportunity in the United States and around the world not only sets us apart, it makes us a magnet for the smartest and most talented people. And we have a long history of precedent-setting action in this regard. For example:

In each of these cases, IBM leadership chose to manage employees in line with our values and beliefs and to engage governments, communities, and other corporations in our effort to change, even if unpopular or disruptive to normal business relationships.

“Men and women will do the same kind of work for equal pay. They will have the same treatment, the same responsibilities, and the same opportunity for advancement.” T. J. Watson Sr., founder, IBM, 1953

In 2013, IBM continued to demonstrate leadership in its support of constituent groups. The following are a few examples:

LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) workplace equality

IBM has a long history when it comes to LGBT workplace equality. As early as 1984, we included sexual orientation in our nondiscrimination policy. In 1995, an 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.

IBM earned the HR Excellence Award 2013 from Human Resource Manager magazine in Germany for its global LGBT reverse-mentoring program. A large group of LGBT employees from around the world volunteer to mentor our managers in growth markets on what it is like to be a LGBT employee at IBM and to belong to the LGBT constituency in today's society.

In addition, for the 11th consecutive year, IBM scored 100 percent on the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s Corporate Equality Index, the national benchmarking tool for corporate policies and practices related to LGBT employees. The index, released each autumn, provides an in-depth analysis and rating of large US employers and their policies and practices pertinent to LGBT employees—such as equal-employment opportunity policies that include sexual orientation and gender identity or expression, employment benefits for all benefits-eligible US employees, and ongoing LGBT-specific engagements that extend across the company.

IBM also scored No. 1 in Stonewall's Global Equality Index 2013. Stonewall is a LGB organization based in the United Kingdom.

Advancement of women

In 2013, IBM was recognized by Working Mother Media as one of the Top 10 Companies on both their 100 Best Companies and Best Companies for Multicultural Women. In addition, the National Association of Female Executives recognized IBM among the top 10 on their Top 50 Companies for Executive Women.

As part of IBM’s ongoing commitment to advancing women in the workplace, more than 640 executive IBM women participated in the Advancing Women at IBM Study published in 2013. The study’s paper, Your Journey to Executive, focuses on three themes that emerged: 1) Be visible; 2) Plan your career; and 3) Integrate work and life. In addition, we continue to invest in innovative programs like Building Relationships and Influence for Women, a program for high-potential women leaders that uses experiential and action-centered learning to help participants develop skills in building, developing, and maintaining business relationship and influencing skills.

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 while Jeanette Horan was appointed IBM's Chief Information Officer. More than 23 percent of IBM's global executive population is made up of women. About two-thirds of IBM's women executives across the world are working mothers—clearly demonstrating that IBM women do not have to choose between a career and motherhood.

People with disabilities

Skills and capabilities of the workforce must keep pace with a constantly evolving world as the competition for talent intensifies. Including people with different abilities in IBM’s workforce is based on sound business judgment and anchored in IBM principles and HR strategy. As employers we have the responsibility to offer equal employment opportunities to everyone.

IBM’s recruiting teams play an essential role in identifying and interviewing skilled people with different abilities. In 2013, we updated a training module and a recruitment guide to help recruiters understand how to effectively provide reasonable accommodations when recruiting people with different abilities and to know what support is available within IBM for employing people with disabilities. In addition, IBM has implemented simplified global hiring approvals for qualified People with Disabilities (PwD) candidates and is focusing on educating managers to help ensure PwD employees succeed at work.

Leadership in work-life flexibility

IBM is committed to create a supportive, flexible work environment that provides principles, guidelines, and workforce options to help our employees effectively manage their work and family responsibilities. In fact, that understanding is a cornerstone of our employment value proposition; we know that 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 follows six flexibility principles. These principles can be adapted by each country as needed, based on legislation, local custom, and other factors.

IBM’s six flexibility principles:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Trust and 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

Cultural adaptability/intelligence

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 Adaptability Awareness Week to increase the cultural adaptability of the entire organization—from the most senior executive to the recent hires. The focus of the 2013 Cultural Adaptability Awareness Week was to highlight the programs, activities, and resources we’ve developed and create new initiatives to help IBMers cultivate deeper cultural knowledge and insights. We asked all IBMers to join the Global IBMers Community located at our internal website and spend time participating in activities to broaden their understanding of cross-cultural challenges, helping to improve the way we do business across borders. These activities included:

Business Resource Groups

As we refine our employment and leadership practices to continuously attract and develop global thought leaders, it is imperative that our diversity strategy enables us to meet the company’s business objectives and talent requirements. IBM’s Business Resource Groups (BRGs) tie directly into our diversity strategy and voluntarily bring together talented groups of diverse IBM professionals with the ultimate goal of enhancing the success of IBM’s business objectives by helping members succeed in the workplace. As part of their charter, BRGs align their programs and initiatives with at least one of four IBM business and talent workstreams: recruitment and hiring, talent development, employee retention, and market development.

IBM has more than 200 BRGs registered globally in 28 countries supporting 13 different constituencies or focus areas:

These groups share their achievements in the BRG Connections Community on IBM’s intranet social platform.

Throughout IBM’s history, our non-discrimination policies have contributed to the company’s success.