The International Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (IGLCC) released the second edition of its International Business Equality Index this month, with IBM and Google ranked in first and second place.

Sydney Gay and Lesbian Business Association president Paul Lee-Maynard said he was not surprised to see either company on the list.

“Historically we’ve had quite a relationship with IBM and we have a number of members who work with or are employees of IBM,” Lee-Maynard said.

“I know that there’s been a longstanding group within IBM that’s focused on ensuring workplace diversity for GLBT employees.

“With Google, I don’t know the history there, but I know they have quite a presence today. I attended New York Pride a couple of years ago and they had quite a big float so that’s certainly putting themselves out there and making it known that they support the community.”

Lee-Maynard said knowing a company was supportive of GLBT employees would be attractive to many single people if they were considering working in parts of the world where GLBT rights were less respected.

“There is an element of security there. As an individual I’m sure it would be an encouragement that your rights are going to be recognised as an employee. However, from the perspective of a couple that would be a different story because you’re still reliant on the legislative situation in the country.”

Lee-Maynard said diversity programs in general were becoming more common among large corporations in Australia, but in small to medium-sized companies there was still work to be done.

IBM Australia general manager Mark Latchford told Sydney Star Observer the computer giant was proud to be recognised for creating an inclusive working environment.

“For IBM, diversity is the bridge between the workplace and the marketplace, and integrating these two is vital if we are to compete in a fast-changing, diverse global environment,” he said.

“In 1984 IBM was one of the first major companies to implement a non-discrimination policy for GLBT employees, and 26 years on, we continue to build a more inclusive work environment through a range of programs.”

June is Pride month at IBM and the company’s GLBT staff social networking group, EAGLE (Employee Alliance for Gay and Lesbian Empowerment), operates worldwide.

IBM also runs GLBT leadership development conferences and business forums and is a sponsor of Melbourne’s Midsumma Festival.

Google Australia and New Zealand Talent and Outreach Programs specialist Isa Notermans told Sydney Star Observer the company was delighted to be recognised for supporting its gay and lesbian employees.

“We believe the only way to reach our goal is through employing a large base of intellectually and culturally diverse, forward-thinking people,” she said.

Google also has a GLBT employee group called Gayglers.

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