GROW with Male Allies and Advocates
2020 International Women’s Month
IBM has had a rich history of supporting women in the workplace and career growth. Here are a few notable highlights of our commitment to women and diversity:
· 1899, we hired our first woman and African American employees
· 1935, Thomas Watson declares for women equal pay for equal work
· 1943, Ruth Leach was hired as our first woman VP
· 1984, Non-discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation
· 2012, Ginny Rometty was appointed our first woman CEO
Gender equality didn’t have to start with policy here (remember the Civil Rights Act was in 1964). It was leadership taking action on what is fair and right. I’ve had the opportunity to stand on the shoulders of giants that have come long before me. More recently, I’ve really seen and felt even more progress around me. Progress is more gender balanced teams, diversity and inclusion Business Resource Groups, and more women in leadership positions (the data backs this up). I attribute the progress to senior leadership actions, women supporting women, more managers understanding the benefits of diversity and inclusion, and women having the courage to speak up and be heard.
While we’ve moved the needle forward, we’re far from done. As we embark upon International Women’s Month, GROW in Cloud and Cognitive Software will celebrate Male Allies and Advocates as part of the IBM #beequal campaign. GROW is our women’s career group in Cloud and Cognitive Software. For more on GROW, go here. This month, we focus on the role men play in creating an equal workplace and how they can help women GROW. The IBM Institute of Business Value study, “Women, leadership, and the priority paradox” found that only 18% of senior leaders are women. Given this disparity, we can’t ignore the fact that men play a significant role in workplace equality. They are in the leadership positions to make and advocate for change. This is not about men empowering women, rather it’s men working in partnership with women to create inclusive corporate cultures where all qualified employees have equal opportunity for advancement. It’s a shift in attitude. It’s awareness in actions. It’s advocating for policies. It’s accountability in advancement.
On March 19, GROW is sponsoring an internal global livestream panel on Male Allies and Advocates. Our male allies will join us with their mentees to discuss progress and challenges in advancing women in the workplace. These men were selected because of their visibility in actively championing advancement of issues that our women care about.
Our panel includes:
·Julien Meyrick: Managing Partner, VP, Security Services
· Kaja Narum: Business Unit Leader, Security
· Kyle Brown: IBM Fellow, CTO, IBM Garage
· Holly Cummings: IBM Garage
· Robert Parolin: NA Cloud & Cognitive Software Tech Sales
· Mashael Almuhanna: MEA Tech Sales
· Seth Dobrin: Cloud & Cognitive Software, Data and AI Chief Data Officer
· Susara van Den Heever: Data Science Elite, EMEA Leader
While this is internal, we are working on a program to deliver GROW to our customers and partners. Stay tune for that.
I encourage men and women to celebrate male allies and to have the discussions locally on what’s needed to increase the number of male advocates. All it takes is one visible champion, and we start to see fast followers. (See Lone Nut for inspiration! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fW8amMCVAJQ_)
I wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for the men and women who have supported gender equality and ensured fair opportunities for women to grow and compete for roles. I want to acknowledge my male advocates and allies, who, if not for them giving me an opportunity, I would not be where I am today.
· Matt Sneed: My husband, my partner, “my person”, my advocate, who has sacrificed everything including his career as a high school philosophy and English major to support my career. You make me better every day, Matt.
· Kareem Yusuf: A leader and ally who gave me a shot at product management, a role that became the foundation for my career and love of the profession.
· Moe Abdula: A leader and ally who taught me how to take care of a team and enabled me to build my technical skills in Public Cloud.
· Steve Cowley: A leader and ally who plucked me out of Product Management and took a huge bet on me for a GTM Sales Enablement role. He taught me what GTM means in IBM, and why skills matter for our people and our customers.
· Rob Thomas: A leader and ally who taught me core leadership principals for winning the platform, starting a movement, and what a world class leadership team looks like.
· Bob Lord: A leader and ally who taught me leadership techniques in transforming a 110 year old company to go digital.
Many men and women have made it better for my colleagues and me, but we aren’t done. I’ll take a quote from Michelle Pelsuso who said to the Women’s Executive Council, “Have we made it better for the next generation of women?”. That’s all I can hope to do through GROW. Make it better.
With that I leave you my #beequal pledge: I pledge to provide a platform for women to get the resources, support, and guidance to GROW their careers in IBM.
I would love to hear about your male allies and advocates and to see your pledge.
Let’s GROW together.