Stephanie and her partner lead EAGLE, IBM Philippines’ LGBT+ community. On this blog, she shares her personal experience on how IBM shows support for the LGBT+ community, and how IBMers across the world truly enjoy a culture of diversity.
By Stephanie Galera
I have always been a believer of globalization and technology. They go hand-in-hand and as the world gets smaller that you have friends, family, or colleagues living in another country. It’s okay, it’s not as separation anxiety-inducing as it would have been a decade ago – simply because they’re one video call away. Technology has always enabled us to keep our communication lines open and maintain strong, meaningful, and lasting relationships.
While our company is big on the usage of technology – I don’t have to tell you how many video or audio conferences we attend on a weekly basis – IBM recognizes the need for actual human connection and values relationships. We pride ourselves on sending people to all corners of the world to give them different kinds of opportunities, whether it be an opportunity for leadership development or for corporate social and community service. This is a story of three specific opportunities that I, as an employee of IBM, have had the honor to be part of.
Representing the Philippines at the Out and Equal Summit
Last year, I had the privilege to fly to Orlando and represent my country in the Out & Equal Summit. I won’t talk in detail about it because a few blogs have already been written about it – scroll through them and send them some love by commenting! But I WILL tell you one thing about that summit –I have enjoyed my experience immensely simply because of one reason: human connections.
First and foremost, I was lucky enough to have my partner with me – who is also an IBMer and is also representing the Business Resource Group we are leading together – to endure a 17-hour flight and enjoy my first US trip. Needless to say, it was like a honeymoon! Moreover, the very night we arrived at the Walt Disney World Resort, we finally met our global counterparts in person. It was a surreal experience. I have never, in my life, imagined that I would be meeting these wonderful people whom I’ve only met through a computer or a phone call. These are people who share the same sentiments and experiences as me – the only difference is that they’re half way across the globe.
Meeting IBM’s Out Role Models at IDEA 2017
It was already a rare opportunity to meet like-minded colleagues from across the world, so imagine my surprise when IBM offered me another opportunity to connect with fellow IBMers! It was eight months later that IDEA 2017 happened. The IBM Diversity & Inclusion Eminence Assembly was a three-day event which gathered together diverse minds from different minority backgrounds – LGBT+, women, PwD, and so on, — for us to learn together and from each other.
Part of the population that was invited to the event were the “Out Role Models” (ORM). An ORM is a leader who, in their own countries, are out, proud, and are exceptional talents with so much to contribute to the company and the world. You can imagine the energy coming off from everyone. Every story is profoundly different, but at the same time, very much alike. Despite the event lasting only three days, we wept when we said our goodbyes and have made plans and promises that we will see each other again.
Marching with IBMers at the Philppines Pride March 2017
I have been talking a lot about global counterparts and traveling, but everything would not have been successful without our local counterparts and events. Last June 24th, we celebrated our Pride March here in the Philippines. And as IBMers, we marched together as one community. It says a lot when you make the effort to go and meet LGBT+ employees and allies alike. It says: “I support you. I walk with you.” And this is the resounding statement IBM has been saying since the 1900s. This year, though, we have strutted the streets with the fresh and new IBM Rainbow Logo.
IBM has, been instrumental in shifting my perception from being okay with purely virtual sessions to actually wanting to meet with and connect with IBMers, leaders, and allies across the globe. I am out and I am proud to say that I now know people who can support me and encourage me from across all corners of the world – all thanks to IBM!
Stephanie is a Senior Talent Programs and Engagement Partner for IBM Philippines