Whether it is climbing corporate ranks with skill and tenacity or overcoming being blindsided by former business partners, Hélène Bourcier is not only the embodiment of endurance—she is living proof of the professional and personal rewards that come with keeping on going.
The founding of AVRH Inc. can be traced back to 1997, when Québec passed a law on pay equity that required public and private companies to conduct a benchmarking exercise comparing those jobs to male and female contingencies, to assess whether or not the wage gap can be explained by discrimination against women’s jobs. Taking advantage of this context, André Valiquette started AVRH in 2000, and recruited Bourcier among its employees during the same year. In 2003, Bourcier became a shareholder, and in 2008, she purchased the company to become the sole owner. Today she serves as AVRH’s president and general director.
Throughout its existence, the principal activities of AVRH have always consisted of evaluating jobs, establishing pay structures, and negotiating them. Today the company also specializes in assisting organizations in the process of pay negotiation and the related tasks involved with this process. Examples of AVRH clients include municipalities, state companies, industry, and hospitality. “Our customers are of different sizes, ranging from 15 employees to 6,000 employees, unionized and nonunionized,” Bourcier notes.
She relates professional endurance to the trademark and the specificity of a business as it works in consultation with all relevant stakeholders, while simultaneously considering the staff as the backbone of the organization. “My team and I believe that the ability of a company to improve its performance and competitiveness is based on a sense of belonging and the esteem of those who are its living components.”
The team at AVRH clearly understands the importance of having meetings and discussions that are performed in harmony and are respectful of all points of view. “In addition, when the work is finished, we do not fear ‘going to the front’ with the actors involved, to show the correctness of our proposals,” says Bourcier.
2000: AVRH Inc. is started by André Valiquette; later on, he recruits Hélène Bourcier
2007: AVRH is selected by the Pay Equity Commission in Québec to investigate more than 400 complaints and resolve them
2008: The company reinvents its image, giving its website a new look and significantly expanding its marketing vision
2012: AVRH starts doing business with international clients
This personalized and detailed process also requires durability from AVRH team members for successful implementation. Bourcier explains that having a cohesive group facilitates this. “To put forward our mission to support consultation among stakeholders, we recruit staff who share our philosophy, strategy, and work-methods—who all take into account open and proactive communications,” she says, adding that they never circumvent the law, and always work by first considering the type of business and the customer they are working with.
Bourcier believes that her company will endure because it will continue to be necessary and profitable, since AVRH is concerned with labour relations and finding ways for companies to remain competitive. “Therefore, based on an economic point of view, sound management of labour relations will remain a strategic issue, if only to allow a company to improve its product and remain on the market.” She also asserts that all employers will need to continue evaluating their jobs to ensure that the tasks and skills required match the purposes of their businesses. “It will always be necessary to define a compensation structure that will consider all levels of the hierarchy of jobs in a company, however small or large it may be.”
In addition, expertise in this area is not common to all businesses, especially small and medium ones that don’t always have the financial means to meet these requirements. “In these circumstances, my company can help them at a lower cost, while providing a service job evaluation or compensation adapted to their reality, their needs, and the mission of their company,” Bourcier notes.
Another way to ensure AVRH’s endurance in its industry is to stay connected to the realities of employers. “My company will continue to position itself in the market as one of the most effective consulting firms,” Bourcier says, “especially with such a team of experienced people who are sensitive to the success of businesses.”
According to Bourcier, one of the most urgent future challenges toward endurance for the company will be expanding its service offerings to its existing customers. “This entails adding support service and conflict management related to the administration of human resources—including compensation and other HR activities such as negotiation support in management skills.”
She concludes that AVRH also aims to increase the visibility of the organization in many areas of business. “We want to become the standard for compensation in Québec and Canada,” she says. “And why not?”