IBM – setting the standard for GLBT inclusion

IBM is a leader in the workplace when it comes to GLBT inclusion and equality. Today it released it’s inaugural GLBT Annual Report.

IBM has been an advocate for equality for many years.  Since 1984 it has spoken out about gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) equality and inclusion and has fought discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation:

On September 21, 1953, Thomas Watson, Jr., the company’s president at the time, sent out a controversial letter to all IBM employees stating that IBM needed to hire the best people, regardless of their race, ethnic origin, or gender. He also publicized the policy so that in his negotiations to build new manufacturing plants with the governors of two states in the U.S. South, he could be clear that IBM would not build “separate-but-equal” workplaces.[30] In 1984, IBM added sexual orientation to its nondiscrimination policy. The company stated that this would give IBM a competitive advantage because IBM would then be able to hire talented people its competitors would turn down.[31]

Today IBM released its 2010 IBM GLBT Inaugural Annual Report.  It’s remarkable that one of the most significant corporations on the planet has taken this positive step in demonstrating that everyone of diverse sexual orientation and gender identity in its workplace is valued and respected.  There are many organisations in which people are not encouraged to feel comfortable to be who they are and it’s in these workplaces where both the employee and employer suffer.

I’m confident IBM’s GLBT Annual Report will help lead the way for other organisations to show how they are also making their workplaces just as inclusive, productive and safe.

IBM and JOY 94.9 at the 2011 Melbourne Midsumma Carnival
IBM and JOY 94.9 at the 2011 Melbourne Midsumma Carnival

Lastly, I’m pleased to see my photo featuring IBM and Melbourne GLBT radio station JOY 94.9, taken at the 2011 Midsumma Carnival,  is included in the report on page 12.

2 thoughts on “IBM – setting the standard for GLBT inclusion”

  1. Not in 1968 though.

    “Sadly, just before Lynn underwent sex reassignment surgery in 1968, she was fired by IBM for being transsexual and lost all connections to her important work there.

    Lynn’s case was a first at IBM. The idea that a professi…onal person would seek a “sex change” totally shocked IBM’s management. Most transsexual women seeking help back then were from among those who worked as “female impersonators” or as prostitutes. Only those who were sure they could fully pass as women, who were totally desperate and who had nothing to lose, dared to change gender back then. When top IBM management learned what Lynn was doing, she was fired in a maelstrom of animosity. It is almost certain that the decision was made by T. J. Watson, Jr., himself.
    When Lynn returned, she made her social transition and took on her new name. She started her career all over again as a lowly contract programmer without a past. A gritty survivor, her adjustment in her new role went completely against the dire predictions of the IBM executives and all the family and the friends who had deserted her. All alone she went out into the world, made new friends and worked hard to succeed in her new life.

    Amazingly, Lynn became so happy, and so full of life and hope after her transformation, that her career took off like a rocket. Moving up through a series of companies, she landed a computer architecture job at Memorex in 1971. In 1973, she was recruited by Xerox’s exciting new Palo Alto Research Center, just as it was forming.

    By 1978, just 10 years after her gender transition, Lynn was already on the verge of international fame in her field for her VLSI innovations”

    From Lynn Conway’s Website

    IBM could have had one of the top two or three people responsible for modern electronics working for them. They blew it. They know it. They don’t want to make the same mistake again.

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