Yohance Barrett is a CGI project manager based in Los Angeles, California.
In my eight years at CGI, I’ve been part of teams on several interesting projects here in Los Angeles and Arizona. I applied for the open position my friend recommended, got interviewed a few times, and then hired.
Our corporate culture is fantastic—relationships between co-workers are like family, the work-life balance CGI allows is second to none. I came into this company knowing little about IT. Now I see a lot more, and I’m happy to be here.
I’m a people person, and CGI’s culture fits that part of my nature, but I also find it helps me when meeting with clients. I’m honest with them, so they trust me. I develop personal relationships with them. Nurturing that trust can take time, but it helps projects go smoother, and implementations succeed.
As a Black man in a technology field, I appreciate CGI’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I). My colleague and I went to a DE&I workshop in Los Angeles. There were some of our clients there, too—the City of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles County Office of Education. Their representatives spoke about data, ethics, equity, and how those apply to decision-making. We brought some of that insight back to our leadership and urged them to invest more in DE&I. That led to many meetings with our management, and there was considerable interest. Ultimately, we held workshops internally that many of our account managers attended.
Now we’re working on workshops with LA Tech For Good, a non-profit organization that helps corporations with their corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs. They run workshops that teach their attendees to look at things a little bit differently—not just in obvious DE&I programs, but in everything. For example, someone may be configuring a dropdown menu with a singular gender pronoun, and instead include additional gender pronouns and gender identities to expand inclusion.
We’re planning to have these workshops with our local government clients here within a few months. We're also talking about being able to bake that into our IP. It's great we've been able to work on this effort, and we’ve made a lot of progress. Putting time towards a project like this inspires me because it's not what we usually do. It's something outside of implementing our system CGI Advantage. It’s not our assignment, and it’s us putting in the time to let people know that CGI is looking out for the overall well-being of our clients.
We've joined executive meetings and steering committees as part of a larger drive for betterment. It's good to be working with a company that allows you to do that. I think this is an aspect of being considered a “member,” rather than an employee, at CGI. Being a member, to me, means remembering that I’m representing CGI at all times—whether at work or, sometimes anyway, outside of work. It’s kind of like a lifestyle—it’s not something I turn on and off like a light switch. I’m always in that mode. I think it helps me work better and makes me a better person outside of work. CGI has principles and core values that it expects members to live by. The more I work under those core values, the more I find myself living by them outside of work as well.
Representation in the workplace
This is Black History Month, which I think is extremely significant. African-Americans have gone through so much in this country; I think it’s good to set apart some time to learn about and acknowledge the many Black folks that have done great things here.
There are many things people can do to get more information and learn more. The more you know, the more you can understand people better and incorporate that into what you do in life. That’s why representation in the workplace is so important. At work, when the workforce is diverse, people encounter others that they probably would not even know if not for the circumstances of a job putting them together. When you work side-by-side with someone from a culture you know little about, it becomes easier to understand that person as a human being rather than a stereotype.