Recognized as one of Canada's Top 100 Employers (2021), Canada's Top Family-Friendly Employers (2021) and BC's Top Employers (2021):
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Nov 12, 2020)
Here are some of the reasons why British Columbia Investment Management Corporation / BCI was selected as one of Canada's Top 100 Employers (2021), Canada's Top Family-Friendly Employers (2021) and BC's Top Employers (2021):
- As part of BCI's benefits plan, the company offers a health spending account of up to $1,500 per year and access to virtual health care services, including virtual appointments with healthcare professionals and online health assessments
- BCI supports new mothers with generous maternity and parental leave top-up payments (to 85 per cent of salary for 52 weeks) as well as new fathers and adoptive parents (to 85 per cent of salary for 36 weeks) -- parents returning from leave can also participate in a buddy program, which matches participants with employees who returned from leave in the past year
- BCI offers young people opportunities to gain career-level experience through co-op placements and internships for a variety of disciplines, including finance, computer science, communications and law (to name only a few)
BCI and its people step up to help the community
Zaman Velji has had a lot to cope with since the pandemic hit. Like his fellow employees at the British Columbia Investment Management Corporation (BCI), he had the sudden shift to working from home. The senior portfolio manager, infrastructure & renewable resources, was suddenly grounded and had to find new ways to connect with the companies BCI owns around the world.
But none of that – including “virtual jet lag” – could stop him from rallying his company and community behind a campaign for COVID-19 relief.
“BCI was tremendously supportive because it recognizes we gain when we give back to our communities,” says Velji. “There was tremendous need and BCI management and my fellow employees came through with flying colours.”
BCI is a leading provider of investment management services for B.C.’s public sector. Headquartered in Victoria, it handles over $171 billion of managed assets, ensuring financial security for more than 630,000 pension plan beneficiaries and 2.5 million workers.
BCI management supports Velji in his outside role as chair of the Victoria Foundation, the second-oldest community foundation in Canada. Seeing the need to respond quickly, Velji helped organize the Rapid Relief Fund, raising money to obtain personal protective equipment (PPE), help the homeless, support domestic abuse facilities and more.
BCI contributed $75,000 to the Rapid Relief Fund. BCI’s employees also responded enthusiastically making individual donations and in recognition of their generosity, the executive management team donated an additional $50,000 of their own funds.
“We thought it was important, especially during this time when we’re so fortunate to be able to continue working, supporting our families and looking after our loved ones, to look at the broader community,” says chief operating officer Shauna Lukaitis.
“When the management team saw the staff was really getting behind Zaman, we thought it was important for us to show that support as well and recognize the generosity of our staff.”
Community giving is ingrained in BCI’s culture. Whether it’s by supporting the United Way or giving employees paid time to work for charity, BCI’s management and employees enjoy giving back.
BCI’s people-first philosophy was challenged at the beginning of the pandemic when employees transitioned to working remotely. Fortunately, there were already plans for greater work-at-home options, easing the transition. Employees received a stipend to help fund their home offices and safe pickup dates were arranged to access items needed from the workplace.
“I think the biggest thing for me is our staff has been truly resilient. They’re adapting in ways I didn’t know was possible,” says Lukaitis.
“And that’s not just because we’re making it possible for them. They have that in them. I’m so very proud of the people that I work with.”
BCI holds virtual town halls to stay connected, has set up a COVID-19 section of its intranet and developed a series of “playbooks” to guide staff and managers through COVID-19 protocols and practices. It also regularly updates clients via webcasts, communiques and a new client portal.
For Velji, a big challenge has been keeping connected with BCI’s investments around the world. Instead of flying in for a face-to-face meeting, he uses technology to stay in touch with the boards and management teams of BCI-owned companies.
“My webcam has recently taken me to discussions with our partners around the world, from London to Mumbai, Singapore to Indiana, and elsewhere. It's like virtual jet lag and living in different time zones without ever leaving the province," says Velji.“So that dimension has really changed things.”
BCI employees say they feel more connected than ever
Like most of her fellow employees at the British Columbia Investment Management Corporation (BCI), Gina Dennison was worried the pandemic would leave her feeling isolated. But now she has a whole new family.
Dennison, analyst, enterprise risk management, is part of the company’s COVID-19 working group tasked with ensuring employee health and safety. Coping with the huge responsibility – and meeting virtually every day since March – has brought them closer together.
“We’ve really become quite a family. It shows how resilient we are at BCI,” says Dennison.
“We’ve become closer as we’ve worked hard to ensure we’re in the best place possible, because employee health and safety is the top priority.”
Headquartered in Victoria, BCI ensures the financial security of 630,000 pension plan beneficiaries and 2.5 million workers while handling over $171 billion of managed assets. It’s a leading provider of investment management services for B.C.’s public sector.
When the pandemic hit, BCI shifted employees overnight to working remotely. It provided a stipend to pay for setting up home office spaces and offered home ergonomic assessments. Healthcare support was increased thanks to a virtual healthcare provider.
The BCI COVID-19 working group also developed resources like the managers’ guide to supporting employees during the pandemic and a hybrid teams best practices guide. A constant flow of information with virtual townhalls, a dedicated COVID-19 microsite and regular check-ins keep employees and managers connected.
“We surveyed staff throughout to gauge how well they’re connected and found the pandemic had actually increased the feeling of connection with their team and BCI, which was really surprising given we’re all working from home,” says Dennison.
BCI’s COVID-19 response wasn’t limited to within the corporation. It’s kept in constant contact with its clients and strengthened ties to the community. BCI continues its long-standing relationship with the Greater Victoria United Way, focusing on the most vulnerable groups affected by the pandemic, like isolated seniors, mental health and addictions.
“Since we started participating, we’ve given over a million dollars to the United Way,” says chief operating officer Shauna Lukaitis.“It’s important to us that we help people in the community not just with our time, but with our pocketbooks, because we’re so very fortunate to be able to continue to work.”
A strong foundation of employee empowerment and constant communication has helped BCI not just survive but thrive during the pandemic.
“COVID-19 put our resiliency and ability to respond quickly to the test and the corporation is successfully navigating those challenges,” says Lukaitis.