Sunday, September 7, 2008

A Special Sort of Matchmaker

The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies or opinions.

I've Never Succeeded as the Traditional Sort

Just once, in college, I recommended that my boss at one of my work-study jobs go on a blind-date with my girlfriend's roommate. It was a disaster. I've never again tried fixing up people with each other romantically...however, I don't hesitate to attempt matches if the outcome could lead to people's advancement in terms of their career and/or human rights progress.

This weekend, I received e-mail from a prominent woman, who was born male and transitioned a generation ago. It reminded me of a Canadian colleague, who's transitioning currently, and who's relatively early in her career.

I introduced the two of them to each other electronically. The newly-transitioned colleague thanked me for the introduction, saying that she was well-aware of the woman and that the woman's web site really helped her as she was doing her transition research.

The woman, who contacted me initially, generously suggested that she would invite my colleague to become her friend in Facebook.

Matching China

While catching up on e-mail that arrived during our vacation, I found a sweet note from an IBM colleague, who's brand new in his career -- fresh out of university. He's openly gay and working in Shenzhen, China. He found me because I am acquainted with a Beijing-based IBMer, who's also relatively open about his sexual orientation, and who apparently told the new IBMer about my efforts to encourage a community of GLBT IBMers worldwide. He asked what he could do.

I just responded via e-mail that he could launch the China chapter of our GLBT employee resource group. Hope he does!

"Sapna" Means Dream

During vacation, another wonderful dream came true due, in part, to some of my social-justice match-making. Dearg and Sapna readily accepted the role and I made them aware of each other; in August, they launched the India chapter of our GLBT employee resource group. It's not about imperialistically force-fitting western customs, I don't feel, but rather, about helping GLBT IBMers worldwide to feel more at home and welcome in our company.

Czech Out

Earlier today, I saw on a great interview when I searched for our GLBT employee resource group on IBM's intranet site; a Linux specialist in Czech Republic was asked whether diversity was promoted at the company, where she worked prior to IBM:
Not really. In the previous job, only two of my closest friends knew about my different sexual orientation. You know, you just went to the job, worked for 8 hours a day and nobody cared about your personality, your sexual orientation or your preferences.

In IBM, there is a huge difference. The company not only cares about your business performance, but also about your comfort at work, your personality and well-being (not only in the form of benefits).

Matches -- Past and Future

Progress happens, I'm reminded, by the radio interview that my friend and IBM alumna Suzanne McHugh shared with me, of Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon, some 40 years into their being together. Probably, it's most poignant of all that I heard from Suzanne during my vacation, as Suzanne wrote the white paper that recommended IBM, adding Domestic Partner Benefits, which it did in in the United States in 1997.

Suzanne and I met at the 1995 National Gay & Lesbian Business Expo, when I was still with a joint venture of IBM and Sears; I had proposed that IBM be a major sponsor of the Expo, and it agreed.

Without meaning to sound presumptuous, Suzanne and I, in our relatively early dedication to promoting inclusion of GLBT clients and colleagues, were among the IBM, mini-versions of Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon (though we have long-time partners of our own and are not a couple); we wanted to make it a better company/world, and we have done so a bit, I think. People like the Canadian, Indian, Irish, Czech and Chinese IBMers will make further improvements, I'm confident.


Anonymous said...

I'm glad to be the match maker on and on. :)

Hill said...

I'm grad to be on your blog!
Thanks for every thing you do for our community!
I absolutely will do that!