By Teresa Rojas
Tell us about your role at IBM
I am an IBM Executive Program Manager, and my current role is the Americas Partner Relationship Manager for IBM Training and Skills Program, the new business model at IBM for building skills in the New Cognitive Era. I manage five IBM Global Training Providers in Americas.
Can you describe how it feels to come out at IBM?
My first direct contact with the LGBT (Lesbians, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) Community at IBM was in 2003 when my friend and leader of the Mexico City Business Resource Group came out to me during lunch and shared with me an opportunity to expand and grow his professional career. At the time, he was assigned to lead the IBM Monterrey office in the north of Mexico. He expressed excitement about the opportunity, and we talked about many topics, especially LGBT Partner benefits and how he felt about all the support he received to start these benefits in Mexico so that he could take his partner with him, etc. He could not understand why there were not many women signing up to be part of the Employee Alliance for Gay Lesbian Empowerment (Eagle BRG). He asked me if I knew of anybody and left me with a great feeling that it was OK to be LGBT at IBM. I thought about it almost every day. Eventually, I came out to some IBMers in the interim just to test the waters, and it was not a big deal after all.
When he returned from his assignment, I invited him for lunch, and I thought about what I was going to say and how I will say it, but I could not get myself to say the words out loud. Finally we got back to IBM parking lot, and I got the courage to say the words: “Remember you were looking for a woman to sign up for the EAGLE BRG? Well, I found someone. You are looking at her. Sign me up now.” He could not believe what I just said, not because of what I said but because the timing was not the best one. We had to get back to work, but it was obvious he wanted to know more about my story. He immediately checked his agenda and scheduled a next day coffee. I looked forward to hearing more about IBM and the LGBT community. A few days later, he introduced me to some EAGLE members. I became the first woman to join the Mexico City EAGLE Chapter and the leader. I started to get involved and participate in the local activities. I loved it.
Being out at IBM has helped me in many ways in my professional and personal life. I bring myself to work fully committed to my time, my mind, my talent, my skills to do the best job I can and to contribute to diverse teams inside and outside IBM to help achieve our business priorities. Being out has also helped me to gain trust and confidence to embrace the challenges that come my way and to help others by giving back. I am PROUD to be an IBMer.
What are some of the advancements you have made as a leader of EAGLE?
I have contributed to increasing the number of Allies in the EAGLE BRG Mexico City, and I had the opportunity in my job as a Latin America (LA) Leader to meet IBM LGBT Leaders in LA and North America (NA) to listen, respect and continuously expand my knowledge of different cultures and customs and adapt accordingly. I became a member of the IBM Project Manager Certification Board and Participated and contributed in Corporate Service Programs. like E.X.I.T E (EXploring Interests in Technology and Engineering) and MentorPlace. I collaborated as an IBM EAGLE speaker at Universidad Tecnologica de Monterrey to share with social studies students about Diversity and Inclusion.
EAGLE BRG is now an active member of the Pride Connection Network (an external network of companies that support and share best practices of Diversity and Inclusion in the workplace in Mexico City). EAGLE BRG participated in the celebrations of the official Government announcement of Mexico City as Gay Friendly City. IBM is a founding member of the Mexican Federation of LGBT Entrepreneurs.
Being out there means to be a leader today and for the next generations to come. Let’s keep moving forward!!
Teresa Rojas is IBM’s Americas Partner Relationship Manager
What will you make with IBM?