International Women’s Day @IBM
For more than a century, IBM has believed that diversity and inclusion are business priorities — it’s woven into our values and how we work. In 1899, the first women employees were hired. In 1935, women were hired as Systems Services Professionals and IBM announced equal pay for equal work. In 1956, Jeannette Watson became the first woman appointed to the IBM Board of Directors. These are just a few examples of the inclusive work environment IBM has created for over a century, paving the way for others. But as with any endeavor worth pursuing, it is the enduring commitment that counts.
Wilma Rudolph was the 20th of 22 children in her family. She was born prematurely, leading to early complications in her life. At four, she contracted scarlet fever and was paralyzed. She wore a brace from ages 5–9 and at the age of 13, she told her mother that she wanted to be a runner. In her first two years of racing, she finished last, in every race. Reflecting back, she talks about ‘private victories’ and ‘public victories.’ While she was last in every race (i.e. no public victories), she was slowly accumulating more ‘private victories’ (faster starts, better conditioning, better endurance, etc.). Ultimately, those many ‘private victories’ led to 3 gold medals at the 1960 Olympics. Rudolph councils us all that sometimes you have to persevere, even when things are not going the way you want them to.
Today, we celebrate International Women’s Day with our co-workers at IBM and women worldwide. The theme this year is #BalanceforBetter. This is a reminder to all of us that we find Better solutions, create Better results and Be our Better Selves when we have a balanced, diverse and inclusive team. This is something we all own together and perseverance will be key to our success.
In IBM, Janine Sneed created an organization called ‘Guidance Resources and Outreach for Women’ or ‘GROW’. Throughout the year, we focus on the topic that we are recognizing today. On Monday of this week, I gave my BeEqual pledge to Be an Advocate — an Advocate to promote a diverse, inclusive and equal team. This means persistent encouragement of both ‘public’ and ‘private’ milestones along the way.
Eleanor Roosevelt had a great rule: We must do the thing we cannot do or have not done. It’s a good lesson for all of us this month.