Recognized as one of Canada's Best Diversity Employers (2019):
By Kristina Leung and Richard Yerema, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Feb 28, 2019)
Here are some of the reasons why IBM Canada Ltd. was selected as one of Canada's Best Diversity Employers (2019):
- IBM Canada manages a global leadership development program to nurture high potential female leaders who are expected to advance within two to four years
- Additionally, IBM Canada hosted multicultural women leadership forums across various locations in order to foster leadership development and networking opportunities
- IBM launched an industry white paper on gender transition in the global workforce and manages an LGBT+ Ally Championship Practitioner Badge program, with nominations assessed by local or regional diversity engagement partners
At IBM Canada, diversity drives innovation
As a fourth-year student at the University of Ottawa, Joyce Miryam Habbouche considered serving a four-month internship at several companies before she chose IBM Canada Ltd.
Habbouche had to complete the internship in 2017 to qualify for her honours bachelor's degree in computer science. "I was hoping to find a good fit for my interests and skills," she says. "IBM consistently stood out."
As an intern, Habbouche hadn't anticipated the depth of her role at the company. "I hit the ground running on my first day," she says.
Collaborating with her peers and working under the mentorship of senior leaders, she and her team set out to solve a real-world problem and deliver a solution to one of the company's clients. Helping to achieve their goal within a tight schedule, Habbouche, a woman of Lebanese heritage, says she felt encouraged to bring all her talents to the table.
"I was included and respected," she says, "and I felt I could identify with others on my team. The diversity I saw made me feel comfortable to bring my true self to work."
Operating in Canada for more than 100 years, IBM has led its industry in developing progressive workplace programs and policies focused on diversity and inclusion. The company initiated a policy in 1953, for example, of hiring people independent of race, colour or creed. The policy was later expanded to accommodate religion, sex, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, national origin, genetics, disability and age.
"Diversity drives innovation, and innovation is key to remaining essential," says Katherine Faichnie, Director and Human Resources Leader for IBM Canada, in Toronto. "Our company's not just a workplace. It's a culture of openness, collaboration and trust."
In 1995, IBM established an LGBT+ executive task force focused on making the company a safe and desirable workplace for all people. Twenty years later, the company earned an international award calling it the world's most LGBT+ friendly employer. In Canada, IBM's 365 Ally Engagement initiative to accelerate the involvement of new and existing IBMers as LGBT+ Allies has also been honoured.
"Our willingness to take on issues of equity, fairness and equal opportunity have set us apart as a company and make us a magnet for world-class talent," says Faichnie. "By working for IBM you're continuously learning something new and innovative and solving problems that have the potential to change the world."
For Habbouche, who joined IBM Canada full-time in Ottawa in February 2018 as a Software Developer for IBM Cognos Analytics, the company's culture has inspired her to apply her skills and imagination without reservation to projects involving a range of technologies, from artificial intelligence to machine learning.
"No two days are alike," she says. "I recently worked on a patent with colleagues from two different continents as part of an initiative to encourage first-time inventors."
The same innovative spirit informs the company's policies on diversity and inclusion. More than two years ago, for example, IBM Canada was the first technology company in the country to extend its employee health benefit plan to include coverage for sex reassignment surgery, based on standards of care established by the World Professional Association for Transgender Health.
IBM attracts individuals who aspire to be part of something bigger than themselves, says Habbouche, and that passion has an impact on the community as well as the company.
"Earlier this year, a tornado hit our city and displaced people from their homes," says Habbouche. "I was incredibly proud of how quickly everyone came together to help with fundraisers and food donations. They make me proud to call myself an IBMer."