In the span of a century, IBM has evolved from a small business that made scales, time clocks and tabulating machines to a globally integrated enterprise with over 350,000 employees and a strong vision for the future of the cognitive era. This could not have been achieved without men and women with different abilities, education and cultural background.
Yves Veulliet, Global Diversity and Inclusion Program manager for IBM has spent 25 years with IBM and in this article he shares why IBM remains the employer of choice for people with disabilities.
By Yves Veulliet.
IBM’s long-standing commitment to people with disabilities began in 1914 when IBM hired its first disabled employee in the US, 76 years before the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
From a digital accessibility perspective, IBM has been at the forefront of establishing IT accessibility standards, shaping government policies, and developing new technology and industry solutions for people of all ages and abilities. IBM is not only creating an inclusive workplace environment but also designing solutions that personalize the user experience on any device so employees, customers and citizens have equal access to timely information they need for work and life.
From an employment and inclusion perspectives, the main issue is rarely about improving physical or virtual accessibility or making adjustments and accommodations. Whilst these elements are not easy, with strong senior leadership and appropriate resources allocated to these tasks you can work through the operational and policy changes that are necessary.
The more difficult part is consistently changing attitudes and mindset, as there is a cultural dimension to this. My own experience since joining IBM in 1992 has been very positive. Despite being a wheelchair user at the time I was recruited, IBM saw beyond my disability to the skills and expertise I could offer to the company in a core business role. Ultimately it is the ability of front-line managers to become disability confident that dictates whether or not a company is disability confident and can recruit, employ and do business with people with disabilities.
Making IBM’s workforce disability confident, in other words, helping our managers and employees looking at the person’s talents, not their disability is a key component of a successful and sustainable disability inclusion strategy that is made possible thanks to an active and strong support of many of our Executives and Leadership teams.
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