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8 Actionable Ways Organizations Can Support Asian Employees in Anti-Racism Work

03/08/2021 10:55 AM | Adil Ibrahim (Administrator)


By: Jessalin Lam, President Elect, ATD NYC, jessalin.lam@atdnyc.org   

ATD NYC is committed to supporting talent development leaders and providing resources for your diversity, equity and inclusion efforts. You are all leaders who can make a difference for the people in your organization, and I encourage you to rise up to truly support your Asian employees to let them know their pain is not invisible.

“The violence will only end when the silence ends.” -Michelle Lee

In the last year, Stop AAPI Hate recorded 2800+ hate incidents against Asian Americans nationwide, including events of physical assault, barring Asians from establishments, and verbal harassment.1 It is disheartening that hate crimes in NYC against Asians have increased by 1900% in the last year and it has been an unsettling start of the year.2 President Biden recently signed an executive order condemning anti-Asian racism related to COVID-19. This post will share actionable ways for organizations to create a safe work environment to support your Asian employees.

1.  Acknowledge the Anti-Asian Violence

There cannot be silence to the violence against the Asian community. If your leadership team has not done so, work with HR and ERGs to send a note to all of your employees to act in solidarity with the AAPI community and acknowledge what is happening to act against xenophobia and hate.3 This kind of commitment will make employees feel safe to thrive and be seen. You can see examples including:

      Airbnb Fighting Anti-Asian Discrimination

      Twitter’s Allyship #StandForAsians

      Paul Knopp, CEO of KPMG US

      Suzy An, Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, Porter Novelli

      Dan Schulman, President & CEO, Paypal

 

2.  Offer Resources and Educate Your Organization

We are happy to share resources to help you educate your organization. Some examples of anti-Asian violence resources include:

      Education

      Anti-Apa History

      Humans Rights Watch: COVID AAPI Racism

      The Fight Against Anti-Asian American Violence

      Scapegoating Asian Citizens

      Hate Crimes Against Asian Americans are Nothing New

      Mental Health

      Support Employees Mental Health

      Asian Mental Health Collective Therapist Directory

      National Asian American Pacific Islander Mental Health Association

      Asian American Psychological Association (AAPA)

      Allyship & Bystander Intervention

      National Association of Asian American Professionals Building Allyship

      Guide to Bystander Intervention

      Bystander Intervention Training

      Petitions to Sign

      Get Mainstream Coverage of AAPI Assaults

      Become an Ally - Stop Discriminasian

 

3.  Continue to Support Asian Employees on an Ongoing Basis

Do not check it off your list to think after you send out a statement and resources that you are done with your work as a leader. Make sure you continue to commit to the long-term anti-racism commitment to invest in the growth and support of your Asian employees. As Richard Leong, DEI Consultant reminds us to ask, “Do Asian employees feel seen and presented in the company’s leadership?” and “Are their stories told as part of the company narrative?”3 Consider the professional growth of your Asians to leadership positions and make sure they are selected for professional development. For example, you could hire executive coaches for your AAPI employees, share the opportunity for Asian employees to apply for the BIPOC Scholarship to receive access to Strong Training and Coaching’s Manager Essentials Course or companies like PwC pay the membership for their AAPI employees to join Ascend, the largest, non-profit Pan-Asian organization for business professionals in North America. As Joyce Chiao, Founder of Inclusion Labs reminds leaders to consider promotion and compensation of API employees: “Are API employees paid equitable across racial demographics and role band? Are API employees promoted at the same rates within your organization?” Take the time to identify what works best to start with and know that this is a long-term commitment as a marathon, not a sprint for creating anti-racism solutions to support Asian employees.

4.  Amplify Asian Voices to Be Shared

This is an opportunity for leaders to step up and check in with your Asian employees to create a safe space for them. Be empathetic to ask them if they feel comfortable sharing their experience and listen to what they’re sharing with you instead of wanting to respond with your own story. For those employees who are open to the idea of sharing their perspective more widely to the organizations, amplify their voices to be heard and seen. For example, Eric Toda, Facebook leader shared his personal experience with AdWeek about how hateful, painful memories return. Consider their overall employee experience to ensure they feel safe and belong by actively listening to their lived experiences.

 

5.  Share Asian Leaders and Resources

As Benjamin Franklin once said, “An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.” It is critical to keep learning and sharing anti-racism resources with your employees. Here are some Asian leaders, organizations, and resources we recommend you to follow to get you started:

      Leaders

      Amanda Nguyen

      Alice Wong

      Carissa Begonia

      Jerry Won

      Kay Fabella

      Michelle Kim

      Richard Leong

      Tiffany Yu

      William Yu

      Resources / Organizations

      AAPI Women Lead

      Anti-Racism Daily

      Asian Americans Advancing Justice

      Dear Asian Americans

      Gold House

      Hear Us Roar

      Museum of Chinese in America

      NextShark

      Smithsonian APA Center

6.  Create Mentorship Programs

There are various opportunities you can create as a talent development leader to continue to support employees and their growth. Mentorship is a valuable relationship to help your employees reach their full potential to support their personal and professional development while enhancing leadership and coaching skills. Consider creating a mentorship program and making sure your Asian employees can join to benefit from it as a mentor or mentee. For those who may not have the capacity to create an internal mentorship program, many organizations offer these resources to leaders across industries. For example, the 3AF Next Gen Leaders recently launched this year specifically designed to help rising leaders in the Asian American Pacific Islanders in the marketing, advertising, and creative industry or Women Who Create offers a mentorship program that connects young women of color in the creative industry.

 

7.  Leverage Employee Resource Group

You do not want your Asian employees to feel a lack of belonging or access to opportunity in the workplace. This is why we encourage you to leverage or create an employee resource group for them to have a community. As shared by Aaron Fung shared in “Set Your Employee Resource Groups Up for Success”, you will need to identify your why, build your coalition, execute, review and refine. xenophobia and hate.1 Some of the benefits of the ERG include the ability for employees to have a community among other employees to share experiences, identities, interests, along with increased employee retention and leadership opportunities.


8.  Match Donations Supporting Asian Communities

For companies that offer matching to non-profit organizations, you can consider Asian nonprofits to donate to or encourage employees to support Asian communities by sharing the list of resources to increase awareness. Some organizations to support include AAPI Women Lead, Asian Americans Advancing Justice, Stop AAPI Hate, Hate is a Virus, and Send Chinatown Love.

Additional Sources

  1. What API ERGs Can Do in the Wake of Anti-API Violence
  2. Influencer Tina Craig Has An Important Message About Racist Attacks On Asian Americans
  3. How Managers Can Support Their Asian Peers Through the Troubling Increase in Anti-Asian Violence
  4. Anti-Asian Violence Resources
  5. 45 Ways to Donate in Support of Asian Communities
  6. On Anti-Asian Hate Crimes: Who Is Our Real Enemy?


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