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Asanapac: A new ERG for Pan Asian and Pacific Islander (PAPI) communities

Team Asana contributor imageTeam Asana
November 3rd, 2021
3 min read
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At Asana, we believe that our Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) play a crucial role in creating safe and supportive workplaces for people from historically marginalized groups. In 2021, we launched Asanapac, our ERG for the Pan Asian and Pacific Islander (PAPI) communities. 

Asanapac’s mission is to celebrate and empower our PAPI communities at Asana. We do this through:

  1. Providing a platform to support and acknowledge the diverse set of cultures and experiences within the PAPI community;

  2. Creating spaces to connect the PAPI community with allies and the wider Asana community to build awareness and foster a sense of inclusion and belonging;

  3. Growing the PAPI community professionally and personally through programs and partnerships.

Our story

Asanapac was originally conceived as an ERG meant to celebrate and acknowledge the different dimensions of the PAPI communities. It quickly transitioned into an ERG providing crucial support during the increased anti-Asian Pacific Islander hate crimes going on in the U.S.

“Asanapac has been a space for me to not only meet with Asanas across the company, but also to form these connections through community and celebration around shared experiences that are unique to the PAPI-community,” shared Claire Shu, Asanapac’s co-lead. “From discussing the impact of the model minority myth and the bamboo ceiling to highlighting the diversity among the cultures of the PAPIs at Asana and sharing space in solidarity around the rise of Anti-Asian hate during the pandemic, there have been many moments where I’ve simultaneously felt a strong sense of commonality and excitement around the rich diversity of the members of Asanapac. Being a part of Asanapac has enabled me to lean more into my PAPI identity—through celebration, education, and solidarity.” -Claire Shu, Asanapac Co-lead

Asanapac also works on raising the collective literacy of all Asanas around the immense diversity of the PAPI community. By acknowledging that the PAPI community is non-monolithic, it provides a starting place for any discussion we hold. 

Asanapac strives to give voice and visibility to the underrepresented communities within the PAPI communities, despite the perception there’s a high overall Asian representation in tech. Asanapac also ensures that we are intentional about creating spaces for reflection, celebration, and acknowledgment for the underrepresented PAPI communities within our organization. 

Our impact

Our first initiative was holding town halls aimed at both creating safe spaces for people to process the anti-Asian hate that was taking place and to connect with other people from the community for support. We also held a town hall for all Asanas—those that are part of the PAPI communities and allies—to come together to share, reflect, and process the events and explore how to show up as allies. We felt that creating safe and brave spaces where people could share their stories, fears, beliefs, and hopes was an important starting place for our collective work. 

We then went on to celebrate our first PAPI Heritage Month at Asana. Our theme was “Fostering Community: Connecting, Celebrating & Building Solidarity.” We curated a series of events to ensure our Asanapac community was intentionally celebrated, validated, appreciated, and connected through culture and identity. In addition, we sought to ensure our Asana community was motivated to act in informed allyship and solidarity, hosting three events:

  • Model Minority Myth: a panel featuring Asanas discussing their experiences and history with this myth and how it impacts their personal and professional lives.

  • Cultural Celebrations Roundtable: an event discussing the many different cultural celebrations within the different PAPI communities—where Asanas shared pictures, family stories, and recipes. 

  • Fireside chat with Kelvin Yu: Actor, Executive Producer, and Emmy-winning writer Kelvin Yu joined team Asana for an in-depth conversation exploring his career path and the intersection of his Taiwanese American identity. He explored how to harness the power of our identity(ies) in our creative process.

“As someone who onboarded remotely, finding a sense of belonging was really important to me,” said Tet Salva, an Asanapac committee member “Belonging is essential to humans; it’s part of our core. So when the opportunity to join Asanapac and create an impact as a committee member came up, I jumped at the chance. Being part of Asanapac has made me feel more included and valued, especially at a time when I’ve needed it the most. Being part of this ERG group has helped me learn more into my heritage and culture. Facing who you are can be hard, especially if you’ve pushed it away for so long to assimilate into another culture to be accepted.” 

Tips for allies:

  1. Show up

    • Being an ally is about action. Come to events organized by Employee Resource Groups—like town halls or cultural celebrations. We love to see allies there because it signals to us that you care and that you are someone we can talk to when we need a confidant.

  2. Lead with curiosity and listen

    • Being an ally is often about being a scholar and engaging in research about the communities you want to support. 

    • The PAPI community is not monolithic. We are very diverse. If the opportunity presents itself to learn more—like at ERG events—be curious and listen to our stories.

Looking Ahead

Our programming will continue to center PAPI identities as a way to understand and make sense of the world and our work at Asana. And, we are proud to be developing programs that are aimed at keeping us connected, celebrating our diverse identities, and ensuring we all are given opportunities to thrive in our careers.

As we turn into the new year, we are excited for the Asanapac ERG to grow and expand its impact. Our hope is that our work will continue to educate, celebrate, and create safe spaces for the PAPI community and its allies at Asana. Asana and Asanapac are growing! If you’re interested in learning more, check out our Careers site and check out our open positions.

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