Jeiz Robles, IBM Diversity and Inclusion Market Leader for ASEAN & Korea, says her experience as the co-lead of the Pride Network in the region, is the reason she is where she is today.

Recognized within the Top 20 of Involve’s Future Leaders in the last 3 consecutive years, Jeiz is a community builder, a champion for diversity and inclusion in the workplace and beyond. She has been working at IBM for the past 13 years, currently as the Diversity and Inclusion Market Leader for ASEAN & Korea. In 2015, she became one of 3 co-leaders for Pride in the Philippines, growing the membership from 10 to over 350 members in the region. She is also a board member at the PFIP (Philippine Financial and Inter- Industry Pride Forum), and the PBDN (Philippine Business Disability Network.)

We caught up with Jeiz to hear about her experience.

When my wife and I decided to be more active in the community back in 2015, we joined as co-leaders for the Pride network at IBM. We noticed that we needed a revamp of our governance system and so we started a co -leadership commitment process. In taking the Radius Employee Network Leadership Programme Stage 2, it was an affirmation of how important network systems are like governance, co-leadership and succession. In the past we used to have elected leaders with titles like President, Vice-Presidents and we eventually came to the conclusion that this model was not suitable for a volunteer community. We changed the leadership model to ensure there was more engagement. Recognising that members of the network were not always able to give 100 % of their time as they were doing it on top of the day job, there needed to be an opt in opt out option. With this system, employees could join the network for small periods of time and for specific projects. This motivated many more leaders to become involved.

Our events always focused on the members priorities. We started with events around key celebration months and collaborated on a few initiatives on the global strategy of Pride at IBM. We also engaged allies through our “Bring Your Own” series, the first of which was “Bring Your Own Manager”. This allowed open conversations and enablement on how allies can take an active part in the network’s success. In recent years, our events became more intersectional, for example, we ran a series called, ‘SPEAKTRUM where guests of intersectional backgrounds talk about their lived experience. And of course, we don’t just stop within IBM. We actively take part in organising activities with other Pride Networks like Pride Soirees, Leadership Forums, Pride Summits and others through PFIP.

The piece of work I am most proud of is taking an active role in creating an inclusive workplace guide: The PFIP Playbook for the PFIP in 2023. PFIP is an organisation made up of representatives from LGBTQ+ employee resource groups, or diversity teams of companies in the Philippines who are all proud equal opportunity employers. I became involved with them 10 years ago, as a co-lead of EAGLE, IBM’s LGBTQ+ business resource group. There was a point when I felt that there were very few companies in the country that offered inclusive benefits to the LGBTQ community. Having equal benefits in IBM for me meant it was my obligation to impart the knowledge to other Pride networks on how to contribute to deploying them.

The PFIP Playbook was one way of sharing the information. It came about after we deployed the first PFIP LGBTQ+ Workplace Inclusion Survey in 2021 to more than 100 companies which outlined leading practices on LGBTQ+ in the workplace in 6 areas. From policies, benefits, allyship, trainings, trans inclusion, even technology for inclusion, companies could highlight what they were doing. The survey now serves as a self-assessment to PFIP’s members and other local companies to identify gaps and opportunities for inclusion of their LGBTQ+ employees. In working actively with PFIP through industry leading standards for workplace inclusion, I was elected as part of the Board of Trustees to now be able to steer the strategic direction of the organisation.

As a global company, IBM provides the opportunity to work with global teams and make a vast impact. I am appreciative of the opportunity to be seen as a role model and inspire and lend voices to those that still hide and are unheard. Having my gay job as my day job being a Diversity and Inclusion Leader enables that impact and I can only hope to empower members from different communities to be themselves in the workplace.

Back to News