By Jeiz Robles
IBM recognizes the unique value and skills that every individual brings to the workplace. Innovation comes from seeking out and inspiring diversity in all its dimensions. IBMer Jeiz Robles, a leader in Employee Alliance for LGBTQ Empowerment (EAGLE), shares the progressive policies that IBM Philippines has in place to promote a truly diverse and inclusive working environment.
Firstly, tell us about EAGLE and what is your role in this community?
EAGLE is a community of LGBTQ+ (Lesbian, gay, Bi, Trans, Queer and other) IBMers and our straight allies. Besides EAGLE, we have two other diversity groups – HAndicapable Network for Diversity & Sustainability (HANDS) for Persons with Disabilities, and IMA for women IBMers. Together, our diversity groups are venues for IBMers in Philippines to collaborate and partner with HR teams to engage and develop employees, and foster diversity in our recruitment practices. As a leader of EAGLE and a member of IMA, I work closely with my colleagues to influence change, find opportunities for my fellow LBGTQ IBMers to voice their opinions, and promote diversity within IBM.
How has Eagle impacted the people you work with?
In 2015, EAGLE conducted a “Bring Your Own Manager Program,”where members of the EAGLE community brought their managers to a forum where straight allies learned about the anti-discrimination ordinances in the Philippines and the best practices to approach sensitive diversity topics. The forum ended with a brainstorming session where straight allies, managers and executives came together to discuss what IBM Philippines can do better to support our LGBT community. This event paved the way to launching one of EAGLE’s milestone projects – the Full Same Gender Domestic Partner Benefits – a collaboration between EAGLE and the HR teams in IBM.
These diversity groups are a testament that IBM walks the talk in our commitment to a diverse and inclusive workplace.
How are IBM Philippines’ progressive policies and culture helping IBMers with their careers and work-life integration?
A letter known as “IBM’s Corporate Policy 117” which was written by IBM’s founder, Thomas J. Watson emphasizes that each IBMer brings value to the company. It states: “The employees of IBM represent a talented and diverse workforce. Achieving the full potential of this diversity is a business priority that is fundamental to our competitive success. A key element in our workforce diversity programs is IBM’s long-standing commitment to equal opportunity.”
IBM Philippines is the first IBM unit in ASEAN to grant benefits for the domestic partners of LGBTQ+ employees. Under the Full Same Gender Domestic Partner Benefits policy, our LGBTQ+ IBMers can enroll their domestic partners as dependents and beneficiaries for spouses’ benefits. This initiative is truly a manifestation of IBM Philippines’ leadership and commitment to diversity and inclusiveness. Only a handful of companies in the Philippines and less so in ASEAN have explicit non-discrimination policies on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression, and much less so in providing benefits to employees’ same-sex partners.
Can you share with us the kind of support IBM provides to promote the advancement of women in the workplace?
To support women IBMers, the IMA organization in IBM Philippines serves to promote the advancement of women in the workplace by providing opportunities for networking, mentoring and learning. The IMA also provides a forum to discuss and address women’s concerns in the workplace, including managing work-life integration. In addition, IMA is committed to nourishing a woman’s personal development and sense of fulfillment by enabling a community that encourages and nurtures wellness, special interests and hobbies, and social awareness and employee volunteerism through active engagement in various social and CSR-inspired activities.
I’m so proud of what IBM Philippines has achieved! By consciously building diverse teams and encouraging diversity of ideas, we can make the greatest impact for our clients, our colleagues and the world.
Jeiz Robles is an IBM Operations Manager for Global Mobility and Program Manager for the Americas’ Region. She is also a Co-Leader of Employee Alliance for LGBTQ Empowerment (EAGLE) and a member of IMA.
What will you make with IBM? http://ibm.biz/InclusiveIBM