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TONY TENICELA

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Advice

I’ve been fortunate to receive the following words of wisdom from many inspiring mentors:  Always bring your authentic self to work. Treat everyone’s perspective with dignity. Appreciate life to the fullest. Follow your heart and the rest will follow. Keep it factual.

Tony is a longtime global advocacy champion for LGBT+ rights within and outside the IBM Corporation. He has worked with hundreds of leaders in dozens of companies and NGOs around the world to champion the importance of inclusive workplaces and employee engagement.

(Editor’s Note: The following narrative is in Tony’s own words.)

Diversity is my passion and it is an integral part of who I am. From an early age, I was exposed to different cultures, languages, customs and beliefs, encouraged by my parents to see these differences as energizing, engaging and ultimately freeing. Embracing the “other” in the world enabled me to embrace my own sense of self – to accept and nurture my own understanding of my true self. Viewing life through a multicultural lens ultimately led me to challenge norms and embark on a professional career devoted to becoming a diversity and inclusion evangelist.

In my role at IBM, I have had the unique privilege of working with hundreds of leaders in dozens of companies and NGOs around the world to champion the importance of inclusive workplaces and employee engagement. I’ve had the pleasure of leading global MNCs and local companies to understand and value the power of diversity and culture as business drivers. In conversations, presentations and workshops, I help individuals and organizations tap into the power readily available to an organization when they embrace the diverse perspectives and experiences of their colleagues, partners, and communities.  

I’ve also mentored and coached C-suite executives, worked with employee resource groups and diversity task forces, spoken to large and small groups at seminars and conferences and led countless discussions about inclusiveness and culture in more than 40 countries. I believe it is as important – perhaps more important – what a programmer thinks and feels about inclusion as how an HR recruiter or talent manager measures it when compiling KPIs. For inclusion to really make a difference, it must become a way of being, not merely a policy or practice.   

Being recognized as an LGBTQ Legacy Leader is a true honor and a capstone of my professional career. I am proud of the numerous LGBT marketplace “firsts” that I have led on behalf of IBM over the years, including:

  •        Expanding IBM’s LGBT marketplace strategy into 35 countries globally;
  •        Partnering with Community Business and Goldman Sachs to issue the first LGBT Resource Guide for Employers in Hong Kong in 2009; and
  •        Organizing the first Inclusion Forums in several countries, including China, India, Japan, Russia, and Thailand, balancing the importance of championing diversity with a clear understanding of the high level of cultural sensitivity toward the LGBT+ community in these regions.

It is important to me to acknowledge how significantly my upbringing and my time at IBM have empowered me to bring all of who I am to my work; to find personal satisfaction and business success by being truly authentic. It has been gratifying to channel my extensive experience, my deep passion and my global perspective into helping both IBM and our clients accomplish significant, transformational cultural change by understanding the true value of LGBT inclusion in the workplace and marketplace.

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