Hispanic Heritage Month is special to me for a couple of reasons. I am of mixed Mexican and Japanese descent, so I have a personal connection which gives me an opportunity to reflect upon and celebrate my Mexican heritage. I'm also chair of CGI Federal’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council, so I see firsthand how important acceptance of diversity is in the workplace and life in general.
As a father to two young girls, the oldest of whom just turned five, it is important to me that I try and instill in them a sense of both their Latino and Asian cultural heritage. One's background and heritage can play an important role in each of our daily lives, which makes DE&I vital for workplaces, especially workplaces like CGI, which span the world and encompass many languages and cultures that also contribute to diverse perspective and solutions.
My path toward becoming the chair of the CGI Federal DE&I council started several years ago within my business unit. We had started working towards creating a task force focused on DE&I. Several of us started brainstorming how to do it and what it should look like. We continued working with those ideas which led to changes in how we went about onboarding new hires and ensuring we provided managers with tools to better support their members. We wanted our new members to know when they were coming on board that they were entering an environment where they were respected.
A couple of years later, an opportunity came up within CGI Federal to take on more responsibility at the Federal level. I jumped at the opportunity and stepped into the role of DE&I council chair in the spring of 2020 right when the COVID pandemic started to hit.
There is a lot we're trying to do with DE&I, but primarily, we want to ensure that we're creating an environment where members feel like they belong and where they feel included and respected. These qualities all link back to the CGI core value of respect, but there's always more work that we need to do to get closer to that ideal. Given the challenges that we've seen across our country over the past few years, it's more important now than ever to make sure that we create an environment where all our members feel welcome, feel respected and feel that they have a voice they can share. We want everyone to know they can bring their whole selves to work.
Part of that comes through our council, but it is really important to stress the impact that our new Strategic Engagement and Inclusion practice and our growing number of Member Resource Groups have had on DE&I. While COVID created many challenges, our members really rose to the occasion and found new ways to connect with one another primarily through the formation of MRGs.
I think people have appreciated that CGI has done a lot over the past year to reach out to our members so that they could feel they were in a safe environment, but as we all know, there is always more work to be done.
Reflecting CGI core values
Our work in DE&I is a manifestation of CGI's core values, primarily respect. I've always felt respected at this company and in this environment. That's something we really take to heart because it's important to treat all our members with respect and to show them that you care about them and that you're devoted to helping them with their careers.
CGI calls us members, not employees, and I think that is meaningful. To me, the word "member" brings a sense of belonging. As a member, I truly feel like I can work with everyone at CGI. As members, we're all really about family, and how we all work together to strive towards a common goal.
I'm surrounded by a group of amazing individuals who are all very passionate about DE&I at CGI, and I know our leadership is listening. They truly care about the ideas we come up as we strive to create an environment where all our members feel they belong and that they have an environment where they can truly grow and advance their careers. That all hinges on living out our core values and ensuring everybody in the company benefits from that.
Read more CGI member stories in the Life at CGI blog series.