IBM at the New York City Pride March – Seeking Out and Inspiring Diversity in all its Dimensions

Chris Tan is a member of the IBM Tri-state LGBT+ community. In this blog, he shares his wonderful experience working with the community in organizing IBM’s representation in the 2017 NYC Pride March.

By Christopher Thomas Tan

In October 2016, I had the pleasure of representing IBM at the Out & Equal (O&E) Summit in Orlando, Florida. It was an eye opener! After the conference, I signed up for IBM’s Business Resource Group (BRG) Revitalization project to support the local New York chapters.

In line with the Pride month celebration, a few members of the IBM Tri-state LGBT+ BRG came together to hold an internal networking event in NYC. It had been quite a while since the group had come together for this type of event. Most of the people who organized are relatively new to IBM or not originally from the NY metro area.

Our plan was to have a small gathering, network, and share ideas on how we would want to get organized as a BRG and make sure we have continuous connection and activities. As we worked for this event and engaged our executive sponsors, we got additional support to participate in a more impactful event. In a pleasant surprise, we got approval for IBM to march in the NYC Pride Parade for the first time in our company’s history. What a great milestone we have achieved!

Christopher and the Tri State EAGLE Organizing Committee Members

We did not have the luxury of time. We only knew we were marching 4 to 5 weeks before the event. Having been assigned different roles for this project, each person brought something to the table. Each member has a different job within IBM, working with different business units, and coming from different countries. Talk about diversity! As we are all fairly new to the Tri State LGBT+ BRG, we did not personally know each other nor did we have an idea of how to work as a team What we did know is that we have one common objective – to make sure that all things flow smoothly during the day of the Pride march and that everyone, IBMers, spouse/partner, family and friends, would have an amazing time.

I personally learned a lot from this project as we collaborated with a large number of functions that supported us.  I am very proud of what the team has accomplished given the limited time and resources. It is when people come together with a common objective that great things are accomplished. This is what makes IBM a great company to work for. Everyone understands that no one person is an expert in everything. The team members highly value everyone’s contribution and empower each other towards achieving the goal.

The Big Event: NYC Pride Day

NYC Pride Day arrived on Sunday, June 25th 2017. Shirts with the IBM rainbow logo were distributed and people were proud to wear them! We assembled in our area and waited a couple of hours to march. It was a great moment to meet other IBMers and build connections. There were members of our BRG community, IBM Out Executives, families, friends and straight allies, and we all marched celebrating diversity as part of the IBM values.

As I marched, I couldn’t help but notice the crowd’s amazement when they saw IBM represented with that unique 8-bar rainbow logo. Their faces lit up as they saw the IBM brand. I even heard someone shout “Watson”.

Beyond the fun and party vibe during the march, you can just feel the pride as we represented IBM in the crowd. I had this sense of fulfillment knowing that this is the company I work for, this company believes in me, and values the real me. I don’t need to hide or second guess myself. Beyond words, you can feel it and you are enabled as an employee. IBM values diversity and inclusion, it is our culture and we show it to the world. As IBMers, we firmly believe that innovation comes from seeking out and inspiring diversity in all its dimensions.

IBMers expressing their excitement during the March

And it really is more than just a Pride month – we have the Pride, we are proud and we will continue to make progress!

To read more about Christopher Tan’s Out & Equal summit experience click here.

Christopher is a Learning Operations Specialist with IBM

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