By Barry Friswold, Sr. Executive Partner, Customer Success, IBM Talent Management Solutions

This June, IBM is proudly celebrating Pride Month around the globe. For those of you in the talent acquisition, engagement, and retention space, you know the importance of creating a positive, constructive work environment that both attracts and retains talent. This month, I encourage you to celebrate such diversity, be proud of your LGBT+ employees, and attract diverse talent – not only during Pride Month, but throughout the year.

IBM has a long tenure in its commitment to diversity and inclusion. We employ people serving clients in 170 countries and embrace people of all faiths and backgrounds. Our commitment to the LGBT+ community is an important part of company-wide efforts to make IBM a great place to work and a great partner to our clients.

Diversity and inclusion create a more engaged workforce – and drive better business results

In talent acquisition and retention, the costs of turnover, low productivity, and low engagement can be costly to your organization. Additionally, the talent of critical individuals is lost when you are unable to recognize, capture, and nourish our best and brightest. Just ask a Millennial – they don’t want to work for an organization that doesn’t value a diverse workforce. Attracting top talent in the first place is key and once in the door, retaining them by creating relationships and work environments that recognize everyone’s talents. Doing so not only helps your company become a great place to work, but can also help drive positive business results.

Many organizations still struggle with how to create a culture that attracts top talent in the LGBT+ community, yet others excel. A recent IBM Smarter Workforce Institute paper revealed that organizations seeking ways to drive incremental business value should optimize all talent, including LGBT+ employees. This requires understanding the unique experience of LGBT+ employees to develop supportive workplace strategies.

Ideas to spark dialogue within your organization

Like many businesses, IBM seeks to foster a diverse and inclusive workplace that aligns with our commitment to fundamental fairness and inclusion—policies that are not only the right thing to do but are also good for business. By promoting and championing diversity, IBM positions itself to attract and retain the best talent and create a highly productive environment where people are free to bring their whole selves to work.

This month at IBM, we are celebrating Pride as part of our strategy and our commitment to creating an inclusive culture. Below are just a few highlights of the things we are doing to that may inspire action or dialogue within your organization:

  • Pride Gateway: An internal employee digital experience that contains an information portal for LGBT+ community news, programs, initiatives, featured stories, and local recognition. The Gateway enables communications for Pride Month and throughout the year.
  • LGBT+ Business Resource Groups:  A variety of employee-led groups are teaming with energy and pride at IBM. The LGBT+ BRGs are supported at a global level with corporate leadership, organization, and content. At the local level, employees are encouraged to participate in volunteer opportunities, march in parades, display their colors, and more. The BRGs are an important element that builds community and demonstrates our commitment to diversity and inclusion throughout IBM.
  • Ally Programs: Achieving equality and acceptance in the workplace relies on the support of open-minded and compassionate allies who are committed to breaking down barriers to inclusion. IBM’s LGBT+ Ally Championship Practitioner Badge is earned by employees who are aligned with the LGBT+ community and have demonstrated a level of volunteer efforts and advocacy representation, which support IBM's diversity, talent, and business priorities. It has been so successful that we now offer a Becoming an LGBT+ Ally course to our clients.
  • Learning and Development: Internal IBMer education channels contain content to help employees and managers learn about LGBT+ diversity and consciously build inclusive teams so that all members can reach their full potential.
  • Have Fun While Building Awareness: For example, this month IBM is offering additional IBM LGBT+ Rainbow merchandise at our logo store. Employees can even purchase “diversity socks.”

In our world of talent acquisition, engagement, and retention, we should share a commitment to building diverse work places. For more ideas for your organization, visit IBM Diversity & Inclusion, the Human Rights Campaign’s Explore: Workplace , and Stonewall’s workplace resources.

To all of you – in partnership and celebration – I wish you a very Happy Pride!