By Grania O’Hare
I’ve been working with IBM for two years, and while it’s not my first time being out at work, it’s my first time working in a company with such a proactive international Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) network. Being out at work in IBM is a natural progression of feeling integrated as a team member. I have found IBM Ireland management to be very supportive, particularly of the time commitment of being active in the IBM Ireland Employee Alliance for Gay Lesbian Empowerment (EAGLE) Business Resource Group.
IBM Ireland’s EAGLE group has made significant contributions both inside and outside IBM. Ireland has a thriving internationally inclusive technology sector, and IBM has a visible presence during Dublin’s Pride parades. As an Out LGBT IBM leader I attend Irish LGBT events organized by the NXF (National Gay Federation). Having visibility and representation in these events contribute to a culture of inclusion and diversity not only in IBM, but in the larger community.
There are many challenges facing the LGBT community today – in Ireland, only 64% of people are comfortable being out in everyday life, which means that 36% still aren’t(source: Burning Issues 2 survey by NXF). Prioritising diversity makes a difference and improves everyone’s experiences. The Burning Issues survey also highlighted that only 3% of respondents think schools are safe spaces for LGBT students, which is why IBM Ireland gives credits for employees who attend a volunteer-run school anti-bullying programme.
2015 was a landmark year for LGBT rights in Ireland, as we were the first country to bring in equal marriage by public referendum on 23 May. It was a sea change in Ireland, and we now see ourselves as a leader on LGBT rights. One month later, Ireland took another major step by recognizing the rights of trans people to legally define their gender. IBM Ireland also supports GLEN the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network which has campaigned for LGBT workplace rights since 1998.
I believe that IBM Ireland can and will contribute even more to the goals of the LGBT community, and the culture of inclusion and diversity as a whole, which is why being an out leader in IBM is not just a fantastic compliment, but a great opportunity to make a difference.
Grania works with IBM Industry Solutions team in Ireland.
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