rachaellandry

Rachael Landry

Rachael Landry is past president of the Acadiana Society for Human Resource Management and is human resources manager with CGI. 

When I was growing up, my dad was in the Air Force and we moved around quite a bit. In 1999, we returned “home” to Lafayette where all of my family is located. I truly love this city. My husband and I are grateful to raise our daughter in Lafayette and watch her establish roots here as well. Early on, my dad certainly influenced me through his strong work ethic and structured approach to life, and my mom through her creativity and compassion.

I studied mass communications with hopes to work as an account executive in an advertising agency. I ended up landing my first job out of college with a small health care organization where I had the opportunity to try on multiple hats. I quickly realized that HR was my passion. From there I was able to find my first HR-specific role. My early desire to pursue a career in advertising stemmed from my interest in helping organizations thrive through strategic and purposeful steps. HR granted me that same opportunity, but instead of shaping advertising/marketing efforts, it was through developing our people processes. HR has a unique opportunity to help both the business and the individual reach their full potential.

I can honestly say the world of HR is never boring, dull or slow-paced. There is a constant balance between supporting the employee and advocating for the business. No two days are ever alike, and the potential to advance the company through well-crafted and employee-embraced policies and programs is what draws me in and keeps me incredibly passionate about what I do every day. HR touches so many areas. From performance management, recruiting, engagement and retention, learning and development, analytics and employment law, the list goes on. So whether you’re data-driven, people-oriented or a little bit of both, there can be a career path for you in HR. At CGI, our work is guided by the dream of our founder: “To create an environment in which we enjoy working together and, as owners, contribute to building a company we can be proud of.” I find that opportunity pretty exciting.

A big focus last year was around educating the business community on the benefits of employing a diverse workforce and how inclusive work environments can have a direct impact on the bottom line. We partnered with LEDA again this year on the D&I Job Fair, which attracted 70 employers and 450 job applicants, and also hosted the D&I Workshop and Expo for the community. We hope to continue this conversation into 2020 to help organizations understand what diversity of thought can do for their business and to help ensure they are creating workplace cultures in which employees can bring their whole selves to work and have a true sense of belonging. Understanding how someone’s life experiences can shape the way they interact with others or how they problem-solve can be a game-changer. Having diverse perspectives in your organization really adds a competitive edge and reduces the risk of becoming stagnant.

There’s no question that employee health and wellness is top of mind, and many employers are seeking solutions that not only encourage health and wellness but incorporate it into their organizational culture. (Editor's note: U-Haul recently announced it would no longer hire smokers). Research consistently reveals how employee well-being isn’t just impactful to an organization’s health care costs. It can also directly impact employee absenteeism, work productivity, ability to attract talent and employee morale. Wellness programs, like CGI’s Oxygen program, that offer online health portals, wellness incentives, smoking cessation programs and other convenient resources can help employees lead stronger, healthier lives.

Many companies recognize the benefits of gender diversity in the workplace, and I think incorporating more benefit programs to help lift the burden that some women face when entering or rejoining the workforce has been beneficial. Additionally, recognizing those industries or professions where women are underrepresented and trying to intervene now can create positive, long-term outcomes. The demand for talent in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) careers continues to outpace the number of STEM-educated professionals available, and many populations are significantly underrepresented in these fields. At CGI, we’ve developed STEM@CGI, where we partner with local schools and community organizations to host STEM camps across the country to train and mentor young people for STEM careers. Creating this kind of exposure at an early age only increases the likelihood that females and other underrepresented groups will consider a career in a STEM field. Initiatives like this will create positive change in diversifying our future workforce.

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Email Adam Daigle at adaigle@theadvocate.com.