Christopher Wyble, an out IBMer, was among the IBM delegates to the Out & Equal Workplace Summit in Orlando. In this blog, he shares with us how he feels about working in an inclusive environment, and why he’s proud to be in IBM.
In October 2016, I had the amazing privilege to attend the Out & Equal Workplace Summit in Orlando, Florida. The Summit is an annual event that brings together thousands of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, and their allies, to share leading practices on building workplaces that are inclusive of all people.
IBM sent a diverse contingent of over 30 people to the Summit this year, representing different countries, different job roles, different ages, and different histories. And it really reminded me of the fact that being inclusive is just an everyday part of life at IBM – as it has been for over 100 years!
When I began my job search as a senior in college way back in 1999, I knew I wanted to work for a company that included workplace protections for gay employees. It was personal for me – as a gay man, I needed to feel safe and respected, and I didn’t want to risk being fired simply for being true to myself. At that time, domestic partner benefits weren’t common, and marriage equality wasn’t even on the horizon. IBM has a long history of progressive policies supporting LGBT+ people, and I knew it was the right place for me. (Fortunately, IBM agreed and came through with an offer!) Although I didn’t out myself during the interview process, I came out less than a year after joining IBM, and my manager supported me in relocating to a different IBM office so that I could move in with my boyfriend.
16 years and six jobs later, IBM continues to make me proud of its stance on diversity. IBM encourages all its employees to engage with diversity groups called Business Resource Groups (BRG). These groups provide mentoring, networking, career, and leadership opportunities, and can lead to lifelong friendships.
I’m proud of the fact that my two best friends in the world are fellow IBMers who I met through our local LGBT+ BRG and proud of the fact that we were able to share our #InclusiveIBM story by presenting the work IBM does in partnership with GLSEN Hudson Valley, a local chapter of a non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring every student feels safe and respected at school every single day.
IBM has demonstrated its commitment to our “extra-curricular” work by allowing us flexible work schedules to volunteer in local schools and has supported GLSEN’s efforts financially, as the presenting sponsor of the GLSEN Hudson Valley Student Leadership Academy. IBM has always played the “long game,” believing that if we work with youth of all backgrounds, we can create a greater pipeline of future talent. And through our presentation at Out & Equal, Peter, Mike, and I have shown that you can do a lot to empower youth by teaching them about diversity and inclusion.
That’s my #inclusiveIBM story… and there are 400,000 others! Join us, and share yours.
Chris works with IBM Global Sales Transformation team in the US.