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19 Dec 2007

IT giant IBM to host LGBTI workforce issues session at melbourne outgames conference

As part of the Melbourne Outgames to be held Jan 30 - Feb 3, a 2-day human rights conference will feature a diverse range of panels including GLBT workforce issues, law, health, business, education and sport led by legal experts, LGBT activists, academics and and community leaders.

Business and diversity champion IBM will be hosting a session on GLBTI (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered and Intersexed) workforce issues at Rainbow Conversations, the GLBTI human rights conference to be held in Melbourne as part of the inaugural Asia Pacific Outgames.

Business and diversity champion IBM will be hosting a session on GLBT workforce issues at Rainbow Conversations, the GLBTI human rights conference to be held in Melbourne as part of the inaugural Asia Pacific Outgames. In 1995, IBM established eight Executive Task Forces in the US to address the needs of different constituencies: Asian, Black, Hispanic, Native American, Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual/Transgender, People with Disabilities, Men, and Women. Click here to view IBM's official GLBT recruitment brochure.
A frequent winner of workplace diversity awards in the UK and US, the Armonk, New York-based company is one of the first corporations in the US to add sexual orientation to its non-discrimination policy in 1984. In 1991, an informal LGBT employee networking group started in Canada. Six years later, it extended benefits to same-sex partners. Today, there are some 47 local Employee Alliance for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Empowerment (EAGLE) groups worldwide including chapters in Australia/New Zealand, Japan, Philippines and Singapore. IBM is also the second major corporation, behind American Airlines, to have a dedicated LGBT sales team to sell directly to LGBT leaders at major corporations and LGBT-owned businesses since 1999.

Mark Latchford, Vice President IBM Systems and Technology Group, Australia/New Zealand said in a media statement issued on Dec 19, "Diversity is a business priority for IBM. The organisation strives to create an atmosphere where GLBT employees are valued, empowered to think freely, express themselves and innovate."

Citing IBM's workforce diversity policy and Richard Florida's book The Rise of the Creative Class which suggests the use of a "gay index" as a measure of a region's social and cultural diversity, the session hopes to examine the relationship between recognising LGBTI employees and markets and broader LGBTI human rights (and) issues, and the roles private enterprise play in progressing LGBTI human rights in countries where LGBTI people are not recognised or where same sex relationships are illegal. Other speakers will include Hayden Majajas, from Lehman Brothers, Japan and Nareen Young, Executive Officer Diversity Council of Australia.

The 2-day conference will focus on LGBTI human rights issues across the Asia Pacific region and on five key areas, law, health, business, education and sport. Speakers include Elizabeth Evatt, one of Australia's most distinguished human rights lawyers and advocates; news anchor and former CNN correspondent Anton Enus; former New Zealand Member of Parliament Georgina Beyer; co-founder of Indonesia's first homosexual organization, Lambda Indonesia and GAYa NUSANTARA Foundation Dede Oetomo; Rosanna Flamer-Caldera, co-Secretary General for the International Lesbian and Gay Association and Executive Director of Sri Lanka's Equal Ground. The Law concurrent session will include Fridae CEO Dr Stuart Koe; Jonas Bagas Secretary General of Lesbian and Gay Legislative Advocacy Network in Manila, Philippines and Anjana Suvarnananda, a longtime Thai LGBT rights activist and founder of Anjaree Foundation.

The Outgames will coincide with the 20th anniversary of Midsumma, Melbourne's annual gay and lesbian cultural and arts festival from Jan 19 - Feb 11.

Fridae is proud to be a media sponsor of the 1st Asia Pacific Outgames.

For a detailed conference program and more info about the Outgames, please visit http://www.melbourneoutgames.org.


Reader's Comments

1. 2007-12-19 20:08  
Wow! If only other companies will follow suit!
2. 2007-12-20 00:05  
I guess some smart ass in IBM figured out that turning a blind eye to downloading gay porn or sexplicit gay chats during office hourse are still
better than shouldering the mounting overheads from giving extra perks like medical coverage and insurances for wife and 4 kids, or the fees for the international school for straight employees ....

We're still being sucked dry.
Comment #3 was deleted by its author
4. 2007-12-20 08:46  
I know that some of the major investment banking firms, such as Merrill and Lehman also have management sanctioned LGBT employee networks. More of this news neeeds to get out. Problem is many companies fear publicising these initiatives to the general public and risk being accused by people like DukeNukem of pandering or being opportunistic.

On the contrary, they are truly recognising and respecting the diversity of their workforces. To them, the bottom line is attracting and retaining a good workforce, no matter what sexuality or race you are - isn't this what we want? Why get bitchy all of a sudden when these companies become supportive?
5. 2007-12-20 14:26  
I guess such benefits are useless for those who insist that sexual orientation is private and no one at work needs to know... (see comments on the Jodie Foster article.)

6. 2007-12-20 21:20  
yeah.. well said 'S2' I agree.
Who really cares about the motives of these corporations. We compalin when they dont recognise/extend rights and or benefits, and it seems some complain when they are given. Whats wrong with people ? Dont we want to be treated as equal ?

I feel it is a step, an admirable step in the right direction which hopefully more corporations will follow suit. Acceptance in the business world and in the general community will eventually flow on to acceptance, and recognition within Governments.

Its an evolution. ( even a revolution)
7. 2007-12-21 01:00  
oh too bad they dont sell PCs anymore ... otherwise would have bought one from them instead ... ... xoxoxoxox ibm xoxoxxoox ;)
Comment #8 was deleted by its author
Comment #9 was deleted by its author
10. 2007-12-21 02:57  

to kellen ... yes sexual orientation is private and personal ... ... and no, such benefits are not useless ... bullies and communist are :P

merry christmas ;P
11. 2007-12-21 08:56  
Sexual orientation CAN BE (should be?) private and personal, OR it can be (should be?) OUT and IN YOUR FACE...I believe we are evolving to a point where it's each individual's free choice how to manage their sexual orientation...privately, or publically ....baby steps...equality doesn't happen over night. Centuries and generations of hate, fear, opression, torture, murder are being re-shapen, and we're the lucky ones here now watching (making) it happen. Enjoy the show.
12. 2007-12-21 09:22  
I love that the brochure is dated 2001. Think about it, were you out at work SIX years ago?
I'm all for normalised workplace homosexuality.
13. 2007-12-21 10:42  
Glad to read about such inclusive measures made by an MNC. Even if an employee chooses not to be out at that workplace, at least he/she knows that the work environment and office culture is friendly and supportive!

Just hope that such measures will be gradually introduced to workplaces, corporations and organisations in Asia...
14. 2007-12-22 01:19  
I'm glad to see they included T. For many years T has been neglected in workplace equal opportunities policies because T* people are perceived to be just too discordant and make "normal" people (including some G and L people themselves) uncomfortable.
15. 2007-12-22 17:19  
Hello All

Will there be a Nation / Fridae festival in Phuket again sone and if so where can I find the information?

Thanks PuketRichard
16. 2007-12-24 16:09  
still this article?!?

every person in fridae on leave?!?

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