By Kimberley Messer
Representing IBM’s Global Diversity Business Development team focused on workforce diversity and LGBT markets, Kimberley Messer had the pleasure of attending the White House LGBT Tech & Innovation Briefing on August 23rd, 2016. In this article, she shares her experience at the White House.
180+ LGBT technology leaders coming together to help address issues facing America and the world, ranging from gun violence prevention, gender equity, big data and privacy, voting rights, the environment, prison reform, energy, and inclusion in the tech industry.
The day started with a welcome from White House LGBT Liaison, Raffi Freedman-Gurspan, and Leanne Pittsford, Founder and CEO of Lesbians Who Tech. The highlight for me was hearing Megan Smith, US Chief Technology Officer in the Office of Science and Technology Policy, talk about the powerful role that technology plays in solving our planet’s greatest challenges and the power of diverse teams in developing those solutions. The morning concluded with lightning talks from various government agency leaders who inspired us to use our skills, experience and technical savvy to innovate around criminal justice reform, the environment, mental health, poverty & homelessness and engaging young women in science and technology. In the afternoon we broke into teams to tackle these issues and put together a framework for addressing each topic at a larger event called TechUP Inclusion + Innovation Week to be held November 14th – 20th in Washington D.C.
Of course no trip to the White House would be complete without a tour – a special thanks goes to Ellie Schafer, special assistant to the president and Director of the White House Visitors Office for giving us the opportunity. While I didn’t catch a glimpse of the Obamas, we did have a special visit from the presidential dogs Bo and Sunny.
Every day I have reasons to celebrate being an IBMer. I am proud of our values and I am proud of our long history of supporting the LGBT community around the world. At IBM we understand the importance of inclusion and how diversity of thought contributes to innovation. Through IBM’s support of organizations like Lesbians Who Tech, who partnered with the White House on this event, we have an amazing opportunity to showcase IBM’s capacity to solve the world’s most pressing challenges while continuing to demonstrate our longstanding commitment to inclusion.
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