Culture transformation focusing on inclusion & diversity

One of the main questions organizations wonder about is – How can we be as inclusive as we can as an organization, to embrace our diversity and turn that into a huge advantage for us?

There are three ways of achieving this and promoting diversity:

  1. Be equal” brand eminence – external and internal. To be seen as a leading inclusion and diversity enterprise by society, organizations need to make the “Be equal” brand eminent within themselves.
  2. Organizations’ leadership needs to be accountable with regard to having the right leadership posture, embracing that inclusion and diversity, and this can be done through data and practices. 
  3. Drive Allyship. It must not be only the HR doing it and not only the senior leaders. All the managers and all the employees as allies of inclusion and diversity have to embrace it.

Following are some of the key IBM inclusion & diversity programs/initiatives in 2021:

The inclusive Ally manager recognition program is a program where we are asking all the employees across our territory to come up with the recommendation of which manager they think is the most inclusive. The interesting part is that it’s not only the manager of that particular organization nominating that inclusive Ally manager.

We find people nominating managers who are in different business units, even in a different country, but those people demonstrate enough eminence in dealing with diversity and inclusion, and they get recognized by employees across the organization. 

The Superwoman series is a periodic newsletter that we feature for all the employees to understand who are the super interesting women having high career aspirations, but also whose career journey embraces work-life balance, and who can become a role model for our territory across the countries.

A lot of women tended to have different careers and have left IBM after marriage or birth. The returnship program is a program where we formed an alumni community with all of the ex-IBMers and we stay in touch with them and keep track of good opportunities for them to return.

Diversity education

Employees and managers need to be able to learn what is essential with regard to being equal, and how they effectively embrace inclusion and diversity, and are able to overcome unconscious bias. To do so, organizations can roll out diversity education programs, as IBM did. The essence is to offer a curriculum that is suitable and valuable to be able to coach, educate, and create more allies across the employee population who embrace diversity, and inclusion.

Can inclusion be measured?

In IBM, there is an engagement survey being done every year. One of the most important indexes tracked across the enterprise is the inclusion index. There are four questions for all the employees to answer:

  1. My manager cares about me as a person
  2. At IBM, I’m treated with respect
  3. IBM culture is inclusive
  4. I feel comfortable being myself at work.

We believe that, if we are able to continue to improve our organizational climate, for these four sets of questions that we think are a good way to be able to measure ourselves with regard to our inclusive culture, then we are making great progress to be a leading inclusive enterprise. 

This needs to be done every year. We measure this across each country, each business unit, each function, and even at the organization level. Whenever there are departments with more than six people, we are able to capture this index. And if there are areas of weakness, we do provide the necessary guidance, education, and coaching to be able to continue to improve the culture at each organization level. 


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