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Norine Hale, executive vice-president, human resources at British Columbia Investment Management, attending Victoria Pride Parade.Supplied

When Gabriel Imbert-Boyd moved to Victoria for a position at British Columbia Investment Management Corp. (BCI) in 2017, the main driver was moving closer to family on the Gulf Islands and taking on new work challenges. But the main perk was working for a company whose culture makes giving back to the community a priority.

“It was a growing firm with a more dynamic environment than my prior role in policy development and it allowed for opportunities to make an impact,” says Imbert-Boyd, principal, macro investment research.

Imbert-Boyd quickly joined the company’s United Way committee, helping to raise funds for a charity that supports the local community. He was already familiar with the United Way mission and saw it as an opportunity to get to know both the BCI community and support the community his family now lived in.

“I’m privileged to be living and working in Victoria with a supportive environment at BCI,” he says.

The sense of community at the public-sector investment management company, one of Canada’s largest with $233 billion in gross assets under management, is no coincidence. The culture of giving back started at BCI with an annual employee-led United Way campaign. Over the years it has become part of the fabric of BCI and has evolved to include paid volunteer days and a formal community engagement program.

“Employee volunteer days are a huge support we wanted to give our employees that would really encourage them,” says Norine Hale, executive vice president, human resources. “Some teams group together and find a common organization that they want to volunteer at.”

The initiative offers employees up to 14 hours of paid time per year to volunteer with the charity of their choice. In the last 12 months, employees volunteered approximately 900 hours across 28 organizations. The paid time also empowers employees to do more, particularly in priority areas for BCI like youth financial literacy. Thanks to a grassroots employee financial literacy committee, BCI is the largest source of corporate volunteers for Junior Achievement British Columbia (JABC) and has become a major sponsor for its program focused on elementary-aged students.

BCI has managed to maintain this positive work culture amid rapid growth. Since starting at the company 14 years ago, Hale has seen it expand from 160 employees with less than $100 billion in assets under management and one office in Victoria, to 755 employees with more than double the assets and new offices in Vancouver, New York and London.

For Imbert-Boyd, the unique challenges of a growing company have kept him engaged professionally while, at the same time, he’s been able to contribute to improving culture and community within the organization. He now also serves on BCI’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Council, helping roll out training to promote EDI at the company.

“When I first got involved, it was because of my own and my family’s experience with mental health and neurodiversity,” he says. “But I also have direct reports and want to make sure that they’re supported in their daily lives as professionals at BCI.”

The uniqueness of the community is part of what makes BCI a special place for Imbert-Boyd.

“BCI has a community that is rich in diversity of thought with colleagues from across the globe and a wide spectrum of work and life experiences that provide the opportunity to learn and grow as a professional,” he says.

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