The One With Gender Affirmation


Mama Mish here.

In the lead up to Sydney’s iconic Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, I had the opportunity to speak to Keri Le Page, Inclusion & Diversity Partner at IBM ANZ on how more Australian organisations could adopt policies to better support LGBTQ employees and specifically those employees who are transitioning between genders.

IBM is one of the regions’ leaders in D&I and has a long track record of supporting LGBTQ employees for over 30 years, the latest landmark in this space is its unique partnership announced last year, as Founding Principal Partner of the Victorian Pride Centre (VPC) – Australia’s first pride centre and the largest in South East Asia.

IBM is a founding member of the not for profit, ACON and a proud supporter of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Business Association.

The company is now amongst the few trendsetters in Australia to welcome such policy changes and strives to encourage other industry leaders as well to join the league.

Keri was a driving force behind the recent launch of IBM’s new Gender Affirmation Treatment policy, which is included as part of the ‘Work-Life’ leave policy. It will be used by several local employees undergoing Gender Affirmation Treatment Leave.

The process of transitioning often takes time and this policy change will ensure staff can continue the process with the confidence that IBM is supporting them through their journey, over a number of years. Employees who are undergoing Gender Affirmation Treatment will have access to two weeks paid time off on top of their regular 4 weeks annual leave per annum.

On top of the new gender affirmation policy, Keri has been a driving force in the implementation of in-depth training for all HR staff and managers as well as a system where employees who are LGBTQ advocates can show their support and willingness to help employees by placing a specific sticker on the back of their work laptop and a ‘rainbow’ overlay on their internal directory profile picture.

In addition to the new policy, Keri spoke on the following IBM D&I policies:
• The roll-out of the employee resource group
• The IBM inclusion council
• Out Role models
• New graduate onboarding process which includes LGBTQ training and scenarios


We know that sometimes it can be hard to know who to talk to if you are experiencing a mental health crisis. If you do not have family and friends living nearby or a strong local support network it can be hard to get through difficult times on your own. Whether you are in a crisis or you just feel down and need to talk to someone, it is important to know that help is available at all hours of the day and night.

There are many free mental health hotlines and mental health online support services across Victoria, which provide crisis support, information, resources, counselling, and therapy to people of all ages.

Where to get help:

  • Your doctor
  • Lifeline, call:  13 11 14
  • Switchboard: 1800 184 527
  • Kids Helpline, call:  1800 55 1800
  • National Domestic Violence Hotline – Call:  1800 200 526
  • Beyondblue –  Call: 1300 22 4636
  • SuicideLine – Call: 1300 651 251