By Tia Silas
May 23, 2019
IDEAS
Tia Silas is the Vice President, Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer of IBM

Letter from our partner, IBM

Tia Silas

We live in a world where women are making groundbreaking discoveries in STEM. Where they’re sending rovers to Mars, writing code to capture photographs of black holes and winning esteemed awards for work in physics. It’s a world where more women are members of the United States Congress than ever before, and where those women look more and more like the people they represent.

Yet despite inspiring examples like these, and conversations to combat it, we’re still far from gender equality. A recent study by the IBM Institute for Business Value found that only 18% of leadership positions are held by women, and yet a majority of businesses still fail to make advancing women a business priority. The message is clear – we still have work to do. As a global society, as individuals, as organizations and as businesses.

At IBM, we’ve long recognized the value of diversity of thought, experience, background and identity. Not only because it’s the right thing to do, but because it’s good business. We’ve found that inclusive teams are not only more productive, but they also produce more innovative, and inclusive, technology. But creating this differentiated innovation is about more than just inviting women to the table or putting them in leadership roles. The true benefit of inclusion comes when bias is acknowledged and addressed, allowing everyone’s voice to be heard and everyone to be recognized and rewarded for their contributions.

One way we’re addressing gender equality is by engaging leaders as allies to help mitigate bias. Our Women’s Global Executive Leadership Council, made up of both men and women, is tasked with helping IBMers overcome bias. Unconscious bias training helps managers become aware of the natural biases we all carry. But we also know that education alone is not sufficient. Alongside rich education and development programs we’re using technology to help mitigate the consequences of bias – a key area where AI can help to accelerate progress.

Building fairness into AI can provide deep insights that help foster a more inclusive workplace. For example, IBM Watson is being put to work to provide IBM employees with personalized career advice, taking into account career aspirations and serving up transparent recommendations for learning, skill building, and future job roles based on conversation and data. Additionally, candidates may give IBM Watson permission to recommend open roles at IBM based on the skills inferred from their CV. This is one of the ways we’re doing our part to close the gender gap by helping drive fair and equitable talent processes for all.

Yes, we live in a world where there is a long way to go to reach gender equality, but it’s also a world where businesses are applying innovative solutions in order to create a more inclusive society. Where leaders, allies, IBMers and the world are pledging to Be Equal and do their part to advance women in the workplace, and level the playing field.

Please join us at ibm.com/beequal.

Letter from our partner, IBM

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