Friday, July 29, 2016

2016 IBM European LGBT Leadership Workshop

This week I'm fortunate to attend a couple of diversity workshops in the Netherlands.  Yesterday was the 2016 European LGBT Leadership Development Workshop which was held at IBM Netherlands Headquarters in Amsterdam.

This was the first time that the rainbow flag was flown at the IBM HQ in the Netherlands.

It was great to meet with 50 IBMers from across Europe (and Israel).  There were people from the Netherlands, the UK, Germany, Austria, Ireland, Italy, Slovenia, France, Switzerland, Hungary, Russia, Denmark, Sweden, Poland, Israel, and Czech Republic.

Studies show that being in the closet, and not brining your authentic self to work, makes a huge difference.  It can impact an employee's productivity, job satisfaction and overall engagement by up to 40%.  This 40% is huge especially when more than half of all LGBT workers hide their sexual orientation at work.  It's just good business to take care of your people.

There is a higher degree of social acceptance and legal protections available to LGBT individuals in Western Europe than in Central or Eastern Europe.  The International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) has a rainbow map that shows the legal and policy developments in Europe.  The UK comes in at 81% while Russia is quite low at 7%.  Czechland is the most progressive of the former Iron Curtain countries coming in at 32%.
2016 ILGA Rainbow Europe
There were a number of interactive workshops and panel discussions.  We got to hear from the IBM General Manager of BeNeLux, who is a straight ally, and out executives from IBM, PwC, and Post NL.

I participated in a Gay Leadership workshop in Atlanta way back in 2004.  One of the speakers then was one of our out execs.  In one of the breakout sessions she said a couple of things that have stayed with me over the years and I've quoted her over the years.  She now lives in the UK so it was especially nice to see her again and I got the opportunity to thank her for her advice all of those years ago.

Today is part 2 with IBM co-sponsoring the 10th Workplace Pride conference.

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