Meet IBM’s all-volunteer Business Resource Groups

By Astrid Ritzau Frydensberg

 12-Astrid_Frydensberg-2014_09_04-af_Morten_Steno-1500x2100-IMG_9825At IBM we prioritize the wellbeing of our employees – their right to be, and openly show, who they are as individuals. We embrace diversity and recognize that a working environment that welcomes everyone results in both an innovative workplace and an inspiring and fun place to work.

One of the many ways we demonstrate that we strongly support and incite a diverse and inclusive work place is by supporting IBM’s more than 250 volunteer employee-led groups called Business Resource Groups (BRGs).

You can think of a BRG as an interest group or formalized networking group that consists of employees that voluntarily come together face-to-face or virtually. Each chapter is established and led by volunteer employees and formed around common interests, issues, or backgrounds, for instance race, gender, sexual orientation, or emerging issues like cross-generational differences.

Business Resource Groups are focused on providing support, enhancing career development, and contributing to personal development in the work environment. Many employees see the BRGs as a “safe place” to go to ask for their colleagues’ advice and share ideas and concerns.

The BRGs give employees the opportunity to better get to know IBM and their colleagues – to network with a group of people from different levels in the organization and departments who they may not otherwise have met in connection to their daily work.

In many locations around the world there are also New Hire Network BRGs that specifically focus on integrating new IBMers into the company.

Once candidates join IBM, they will find more information about which BRGS are available at their local site and which BRGs match their interests. The fact that IBM is a global company and is very focused on social collaboration means that many BRG activities take place online and some groups are entirely virtual with global reach.

Currently there are more than 250 BRGs registered globally in 45 countries which support 13 different constituencies or interest areas. Around 40,000 IBMers from all over the world are engaged in a BRG and spend time in addition to their day-to-day job participating in BRG activities.

Sample of BRGs in IBM:

¤Asian ¤ Black ¤ Cross-Cultural ¤ Cross-Generational ¤ Hispanic ¤ LGBT ¤ Men ¤ Native/Aboriginal ¤ New Hires ¤ People with Disabilities (PwD) ¤ Veteran ¤ Women ¤ Work/Life Integration.

 Here are some examples of quotes by IBMers emphasizing the richness of BRGs at IBM

The beauty of the BRGs is that it takes into consideration the total person as an IBMer. What each person brings to the table regarding their skill set and talents with respect to their primary job responsibility is just a part of that given IBMer… The individual BRGs help refine and strengthen various constituencies, thereby strengthening IBM as a whole”.Van Smith, member of IBM Houston Black BRG

“BRGs are places where we can all discuss and implement ‘change’ for the under-represented segments of IBMers. Such groups do not aim to unify those who are different with the majority, but to highlight and celebrate the diversity of thought, actions and point of views. When IBMers flourish then IBM excels.” –  Sakis Louloudis, Leader of the LGBT BRG Chapter in SPGI (Spain, Portugal, Greece, Israel)

“Through my involvement in the Tri-State Asian BRG, I’ve gotten to know colleagues and executives from many lines of businesses and divisions outside of my immediate function.” Peter B. Hom, Co-Leader of the Tri-State Asian BRG

“The benefits of being a member of a BRG include a chance to meet and network with people who may face the same challenges you do.” – Jim Lawrie, Co-Chair of the PENG, Canada.

Astrid Ritzau Frydensberg is a program Manager at IBM Global Diversity and Inclusion.

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