Diversity means better performance and innovations
It was said at the seminar Diver(SiTy): Women in Business that employees from IBM volunteer to support diversity.
Support of diversity at work is not only a “likeable” activity which enhances a company’s image in the public eye. According to The European Business Test Panel, 83% enterprises out of 3,000 respondents in 25 EU states confirmed that diversity has a positive impact on their business. A survey Catalyst, on the other hand, pointed out that enterprises which have statistically more women on boards of directors or supervisory boards will in the long term get ahead of their competitors.
Diversity refers to all visible and invisible aspects which make people different and at the same similar – for example, gender, race, age, sexual orientation, or disability. Gender diversity and women’s participation at work were the focus of Diver(SiTy) Seminar: Women in Business, which was organized by the Business Leaders Forum and IBM in Bratislava on 30 May.
Diversity, women, and IBM
“Diversity means better performance and innovations. A team, therefore, needs diverse skills, experience, views, or cultural backgrounds,” said Barbora Paulovič-Deckerová, Director Sales Support Operations Europe & MEA at IBM. Support of diversity and gender equality is deeply rooted in the global company. Women account for 56% of the employees at the Slovak subsidiary. 51% of managerial positions are held by women.
Support of diversity is not managed from above, but by so-called Business Resource Groups. The format of the groups in which IBM employees are voluntarily engaged in selected topics was launched in 1995. “Informal groups focused on networking gradually developed into well-organized teams dealing with issues such as LGBT, women, the disabled, or multicultural cooperation,” explained Astrid R. Frydensberg, who oversees Business Resource Groups at IBM at global level.
Engagement brings benefits
As many as 80% of the leaders of these groups said that these activities outside their official job descriptions make them feel more engaged. They also develop their organizational and communication skills and bring more job satisfaction. The possibility to become active in Business Resource Groups is helpful in recruiting new employees and creating new business opportunities.
“Of course, these volunteer groups can be effective only if they are supported by the management,“ said Jana Lancíková, who is in charge of a group focused on women at IBM Slovakia. Last year they organized 33 events and started educating managers about how to approach employees returning from maternity leaves.
Motherhood is a hot topic in the company – IBM offers women flexible work arrangements, operates a kindergarten at its headquarters in Bratislava, and offers special discounts at two other kindergartens. It also organizes workshops for pregnant employees. Fresh mothers can keep in touch with the company by attending informal meetings or visiting a special webpage.