I manage CGI Federal's ethics and compliance program; I have been an ethics and compliance professional for about 15 years. I found a suitable position open at CGI Federal and applied. It felt like a terrific match, and fortunately, my supervisor and the other folks who interviewed me felt the same. CGI is my post-pandemic employer, and it has been an amazing experience.
Prior to joining CGI, my family lost several people to COVID and I decided to take a year off to help my family process and cope with those losses. I spent the year working with LGBTQ+ Afghan asylum seekers still trapped in Afghanistan following the U.S. withdrawal and subsequent Taliban took over their lives became even more difficult. Many of these individuals, who reached out to me via social media, face persecution, harassment and even death. I connected them with different organizations around the world that work with refugees who are part of the LGBTQ+ community and helped them identify ways to get visas, get documents processed or find financial support.
I've been at CGI for a short time, and I've had numerous people reach out to me from different functional groups and business units asking me to participate in team meetings, manager's meetings, or speak at events to introduce myself and talk about what I do. To me, that says that I'm not just a placeholder here. It feels incredible to be part of a company, which values my work and skill set, and that has given me various opportunities in my short time here.
Living my truth at CGI
During my interviews, I learned about the different member resource groups within CGI. I did a bit more research and was really surprised to find how mature the programs are. It is really important to me to be in an organization where I am not just a token, not the LGBTQ+ member hired so the company can check a diversity box.
Here I didn't feel like I was going to be a token. I didn't feel like I was going to be an outlier. I wanted to be part of an organization that respected the differences we all have and bring to the table, and most importantly, an organization that understood the value of having an open table. A place with diversity of people, diversity of thought and diversity of opinion, because I believe that is the best environment in which I can thrive. I like to contribute and feel like my voice is being heard, and I feel like CGI is a place where my colleagues would hear my voice and respect what I bring to the table.
I don't have to be afraid to share who I am and what my life is about with my colleagues. I can be a more authentic version of myself at work than might be the case in other places I have worked. That's incredibly important because I believe that when we're being authentic, we are being our best selves and can deliver our best work, To me, an inclusive culture is essential to fostering thoughtful and engaging discussions, and that's a win for the company, a win for our customers, and a win for me.
The ability to be authentic is vital for mental health. Mental health is an important topic worth calling attention to during Pride Month. It is near and dear to me as someone who grew up in a smaller town in the U.S. I never felt like I had the support I needed growing up to address the situations in my life.
Often, especially in my role here, I engage with members in situations where they need to be heard. In the past, I have volunteered as a mental health counselor working on suicide prevention in the LGBTQ+ community and also supporting the D.C. rape crisis center, and those experiences helped me develop a valuable set of listening skills. I've been able to take that skill set then and apply it to the work that I do every day.
Making a difference
My family came here 42 years ago as refugees. I was two years old when they left Afghanistan after the Soviet invasion, fleeing political oppression and persecution. Working with refugees and asylum seekers during my year between jobs, especially LGBTQ+ Afghans living under the Taliban regime, has been truly humbling. They are marginalized probably in one of the most conservative and extremely homophobic societies around the world. They are people who don't have a voice, and if they were ever to use their voice publicly, that would be a death sentence.
I can't imagine being in a situation where asking for help is something that would potentially cause you to lose your life. It was gratifying to connect those individuals with organizations in the United States, Canada, and other countries around the world, with more open societies. That has been so meaningful to me and has brought my own personal journey 360 degrees in terms of understanding who I am becoming and who I am. It also inspires me to offer the same opportunity to my colleagues here at CGI Federal who are may find themselves in challenging and stressful professional situations.
I appreciate CGI's commitment to corporate social responsibility. While my work with the refugees was my own undertaking, I expect to find efforts here that I can support and help succeed. That makes me genuinely proud to be a CGI member.
Read more CGI member stories in the Life at CGI blog series.