This morning IBM was named the top gay friendly employer in the UK, for the second time in (I think) four years.

Sam Palmisano, IBM CEO and ChairmanWhen I tweeted this today I added the tag #smarterplanet, to which @bjfletcher asked me why. I have to say at first I didn’t know, to me instinctively it felt right, so I just did it. Act first, think later… ok not a good policy.  But on reflection and while trying to come up with an answer it is very obvious.

Last night Sam Pamlisano, CEO and Chairman, spoke last night at Chatham House under the heading of  “Welcome to the Decade of Smart.” During the event someone asked the question about the digital divide. The answer that came back was the need for us (society) to educate people for future jobs, not past jobs.

Getting the right people for the job means being able to attract the right people, smart people. Smart people (like those less smart people) come in all shapes, sizes, colours and with a range of preferences. If you alienate any of those, you risk not attracting the best people to make your business successful. You also discourage a large number of people from being involved with your organisation, either through collaboration or buying the things and services you make.

Another question was about security. The systems we have today are pretty secure but the weakness is always the people. Having the right people and the right culture is imperative in making smarter solutions work. People will trust you to gather data and use it wisely and carefully. If you policy is one of trust and acceptance AND that policy is played out in real life by real people who genuinely believe in what they are doing magic starts to happen.

So in all what does this mean? Is being the top gay friendly organisation in the UK part of smarter planet? Sure. Every business starts with its people. An organisation that can become smart needs to value, trust and respect each other. That is obviously a cultural thing. Once you get that right you can engage people in innovative ideas, because they trust you and have the clever people that create year after year of record breaking nunber of  patent registrations and perhaps welcome this decade of smart.

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