Practical outputs


IBM has made a conscious effort to drive a culture of voluntary self-
identification when talking about diversity, and to identify and nurture LGBT leadership talent.

All employees are invited to provide their diversity information via an online tool, About You, that allows them to update their personal information at any time, empowered with the knowledge that it is 100 per cent confidential and not visible to their managers. The organisation runs various campaigns encouraging all staff to self-declare their personal information, including sexual orientation, and it actively explains the benefits of doing so.

IBM analyses this data at an aggregate level to understand its workforce dynamics and to better understand its hiring, advancement and retention practices. Breaking down the findings by level, business area and duration at IBM enables the company to compare joiners, leavers and promotions. LGBT data is reviewed by IBM’s Diversity Board – in 2010 the board identified that while the number of employees and managers declaring their sexual orientation was on the increase, this was not the case at executive level. As a result, IBM implemented initiatives focused on increasing the
organisation’s ‘out’ executive population.

To help develop its future LGBT leaders, IBM correlated the LGBT data with its high-potential employee database and devised ways to develop the skills, capabilities and behaviours of future LGBT leaders. As a result, IBM ran a leadership development programme for the next generation of ‘out leaders’. Sixteen LGBT employees from the UK were sponsored to attend a European leadership development conference for LGBT people, empowering them to become more confident ‘out’ leaders.