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How to Foster Belonging in AAPI Employees

May is both Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage and Mental Health Awareness month. As this population grows, unfortunately, so does the number of hate crimes toward them. With societal pressures increasing, here are a few tips to increase a sense of belonging at work: 

How can organizations begin to support AAPI employees?

It’s important that organizations act as an advocate for their AAPI employees. The last few years have amplified hate speech toward Asian communities, making it incredibly difficult for them to feel safe. Psychological safety is just as important as physical safety. Do they have resources at work to discuss concerns or fears for themselves or loved ones?

Although it is generous to donate to charities that support AAPI communities, try to think about how you can be more intentional about using the funds to support the immediate community around you. The employees in your organization might need additional empathy and support. Seek out options that may build your existing relationships such as sharing your shared concerns for their well-being and checking in with them.

Is there a way to support AAPI employees’ mental health and well-being?

Employee assistance programs (EAPs) have long provided mental health support for large and small teams, and through promotion and reminders, more and more employees take advantage of the resource.

By promoting the availability and ease of the EAP resources, organizations are more likely to increase employee engagement and participation. Find out what support your employees need – whether it’s therapy, elder care, or explanations of the healthcare system – to build that support model that their wellness is important. Organizations can do this by taking focused, individual time with employees and asking them what might make a huge difference in the AAPI employees’ experience and listening to their responses.

Additionally, take a step further to equip your leadership with resources to develop and help their Asian employees to thrive. Organizations like Leadership Education for Asian Pacifics, Ascend Leadership or Right To Be host events, webinars, and podcasts, and post blogs that help develop Asians and serve as an advocate for their community. 

Are there creative ways organizations can celebrate AAPI employees?

Supporting AAPI employees should not just be limited to a few months but should be a focus year-round. Often, organizations will show cultural appreciation by celebrating events such as Lunar New Year, Diwali, and Holi, with food and festivities. These can be fun and educational to bring people together for an annual event but there are other ways to make a more meaningful impact. We have seen groups including AAPI speakers in their training and on panels, AAPI authors in their book club discussions or AAPI films and topics in group movie screenings and discussions.   

Organizations focused on diversity should consider including the cultural impact of inclusion and the perspective of how AAPI leadership may strengthen the team. Added perspective can improve cross-cultural teamwork and connections with AAPI target markets. Celebrating culture brings an added benefit when that value carries over into visible leadership positions.
If you need more ideas on implementing these actions, let us know if you would like to be invited to a virtual discovery call with other like-minded leaders on April 28! Please fill out this form if you are interested.

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