Diversity allows us to bring our best talents to bear as we continue on our transformation journey. It is an essential component of our corporate values and is tightly integrated into our business strategy. Our leaders strive continually to manage employees in line with our values and beliefs, to enable them to develop their full potential. As we move beyond inclusion to a world of engagement, we also endeavor to engage governments, communities and other corporations in our efforts. In 2016, IBM continued to demonstrate leadership in its support of constituent groups.


Today when I think about diversity, I actually think about the word ‘inclusion.’ And I think this is a time of great inclusion. It’s not men, it’s not women alone. Whether it’s geographic, it’s approach, it’s your style, it’s your way of learning, the way you want to contribute, it’s your age — it is really broad.

— Ginni Rometty, IBM CEO

LGBT workplace equality

IBM has a long history with LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) workplace equality. As early as 1984, we included sexual orientation in our nondiscrimination policy. In 1995, we established an LGBT executive task force that today is known as the Global LGBT Council and is focused on making IBM a safe and desirable workplace for all people.

In 2016 IBM was named, for the third year in a row, the world’s most gay-friendly employer by Workplace Pride, based in Amsterdam. This announcement was the result of the foundation’s Global Benchmark survey that scored large international employers for their LGBT workplace inclusion policies and practices around the world.

In addition, for the 14th consecutive year, IBM scored 100 percent on the Human Rights Campaign’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 U.S. 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 U.S. employees, and ongoing LGBT-specific engagements that extend across the company.

We are also pleased to report that we added same-gender benefits in 11 countries in 2016.


Advancement of women

More than 24 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, demonstrating that women can pursue a career and motherhood at our company.

IBM was recognized by Working Mother Media as one of the top 10 companies on both its 2016 100 Best Companies (for the 31st consecutive year) and Best Companies for Multicultural Women lists. IBM was also named a top 10 employer by Working Mother India in its inaugural year. In addition, the National Association of Female Executives recognized IBM among the top 10 of its Top 50 Companies for Executive Women.

As part of IBM’s ongoing commitment to advancing women in the workplace, we invest in programs like Building Relationships and Influence for Women — designed for high-potential women leaders, with experiential and action-centered learning to help participants develop skills in building, developing and maintaining business relationships and influence. Additionally, we offer Creating Your Leadership Journey for mid-level career women. The content for both of these courses is based on the three themes that emerged from our Advancing Women at IBM study:

1. Be visible

2. Plan your career

3. Integrate work and life

The new symbol of IBM’s commitment to diversity, acceptance and inclusion.

IBM introduced a new symbol of our ongoing push for diversity, acceptance, inclusion and equal opportunity — a rainbow version of IBM’s iconic 8-bar logo.

The new symbol of IBM’s commitment to diversity, acceptance and inclusion.

IBM introduced a new symbol of our ongoing push for diversity, acceptance, inclusion and equal opportunity — a rainbow version of IBM’s iconic 8-bar logo.

We also work to build the pipeline of women in the technical industry by supporting and partnering with external programs dedicated to inspire, educate and connect women to excel in technology careers. IBM recently partnered with the Boston College Center for Work & Family to develop the case study, Empowering Women’s Success in Technology, IBM’s Commitment to Inclusion. Based on findings from IBM’s 2016 Global Career Progression Survey, it shows that career progression for women is driven by three separate but interconnected factors: the culture and society at large, one’s immediate career environment, and the woman herself. The study describes some of our initiatives, from career and leadership to work/life integration programs — a small sample of how we link our culture and the actions we take to grow and support an inclusive work environment.

Ginni Rometty delivered a keynote at the Anita Borg Institute’s Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, sharing her perspective on women pioneers in technology, today’s cognitive era and three personal lessons learned. Drawing inspiration from the achievements of those who have gone before us, she reminded attendees: “Past is prologue. And the fact remains: women have helped drive all eras of computing so far: tabulating, programmable, and now cognitive.”

Women have helped drive all eras of computing so far: tabulating, programmable, and now cognitive.

— Ginni Rometty, IBM CEO

IBM CEO Ginni Rometty opens the Anita Borg Institute’s Grace Hopper Celebration with a keynote address.

People with disabilities

The 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.

IBM’s recruiting teams play an essential role in identifying and interviewing skilled people with disabilities. Through a training module and a recruitment guide, IBM helps recruiters understand how to provide reasonable accommodations effectively when recruiting people with different abilities, and to know what support is available within IBM for employing people with disabilities.

In 2016 we developed new manager training, “Making managers disability-confident,” and rolled it out across the company. In addition, IBM became the first global IT company to join the International Labour Organisation Global Business and Disability Network.


Work-life flexibility

IBM is committed to creating 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 deepen IBM’s ongoing commitment to foster a supportive, flexible career environment, in 2016 we established The Global Work/Life Fund, a multi-year $50 million investment, created to address the dependent care needs of our employees.

To build managers’ and employees’ understanding of work-life offerings and to create a work/life-supportive culture at IBM, we offer a variety of resources including classes, toolkits, webinars and communities.


Business Resource Groups

As we refine our employment and leadership practices to attract and develop global thought leaders continuously, 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 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 now has more than 266 BRG chapters registered in 46 countries supporting 13 constituencies or focus areas:

  • Asian
  • Black
  • Cross-cultural
  • Cross-generational
  • Hispanics
  • LGBT
  • Men
  • Native Americans
  • New hires
  • People with disabilities
  • Veterans
  • Women
  • Work/life integration

In 2016, we introduced our first LGBT BRG in Russia and our first Women’s BRGs in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.

IBM Business Resource Groups are volunteer, employee-led groups centered around a common interest or a certain constituency. Learn more about IBM’s inclusive and diverse culture in this short video.


Diversity and inclusion education

IBM continues to invest in education and development programs for diverse talent. The award-winning Building Relationships and Influence program now has over 3,500 women in its alumni network. In addition, we have continued to focus on unconscious bias to help educate our employees on the way bias can impact business decisions and impede inclusion. IBM appreciates the differences in our employees because we know that these differences help to drive the innovation necessary for continued leadership in the cognitive era.

Download the 2016 report