Check out these five ways to recognize Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month in the workplace, inspired by the work of AAPI employees at ADP.
Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month (AAPI Heritage Month) is a time for learning about and celebrating AAPI communities, who bring unique heritage and experiences to the workplace.
"AAPI communities contribute to the success of many organizations by providing unique insights that should be heard, valued and incorporated," says Sreeni Kutam, chief human resources officer, ADP. "Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month gives us an opportunity to appreciate and commemorate these contributions, in recognition of this community's cultural and historical influences on our workplaces, where their powerful and positive perspectives can, and will, continue to change the world."
So, how can you celebrate AAPI Heritage Month at work, anyway? First, ensure that your celebrations are respectful, inclusive and factually sound. Take great care in avoiding stereotypes and assumptions. Focus on education, positivity and fun, and try incorporating as many AAPI communities as possible to enhance representation. Most importantly, avoid singling out or otherizing your AAPI employees, pressuring them to participate and burdening them with planning.
To help you get inspired, here are five ways to celebrate AAPI Heritage Month at work:
1. Host a discussion featuring AAPI leaders
Convening your business's AAPI leaders to discuss heritage, history, traditions, customs and current events specific to AAPI communities may help other AAPI employees and their allies feel seen, heard and valued. It can also educate non-AAPI employees on informed, meaningful ways to provide recognition and support. Example discussion topics include AAPI history, AAPI cuisine, AAPI music and art, embracing one's AAPI heritage, AAPI inclusion and accomplishments or innovations shaped by your organization's past and present AAPI employees. Regardless of the topic chosen, make the discussions collaborative and engaging by carving out time for questions. Additionally, consider seeking input from your AAPI workplace community to help ensure the conversation is relevant and attention-worthy. Don't forget to record the meeting for those who can't attend live, and be sure to include your remote workforce.
2. Play AAPI history trivia
If you want to enhance the engagement factor of your AAPI Heritage Month events and activities, AAPI trivia is an excellent place to start. See if a few of your AAPI employees, AAPI allies or self-proclaimed history buffs can do a little desk research for AAPI history facts and figures. Ensure that the information collected is accurate, inoffensive and appropriate for the workplace. Develop questions and answers from the data you've gathered, and use a free online trivia service, like Kahoot!, to make the execution seamless. With Kahoot!, employees can answer questions and compete for the highest score on their computers, phones and tablets in the office or at home, making this activity ideal for remote, hybrid and on-site workplaces.
3. Support donations to AAPI organizations
Financially committing to AAPI-focused organizations is one of the most tangible ways AAPI allies can support their AAPI workplace community and recognize issues impacting AAPI communities, such as AAPI hate incidents and targeted violence against AAPI women. To drive support, consider hosting a charitable giving campaign that encourages donations to organizations that address these issues and those that matter most to your AAPI workplace community. Utilize your organization's internal communication channels to boost the campaign's visibility to employees, and consider asking leadership to contribute donation matches to help maximize proceeds and participation.
4. Form or join an AAPI employee resource group
Forming an employee resource group (ERG) could be a formal kickoff to your AAPI Heritage Month celebration. Plus, an AAPI-focused ERG gives your AAPI employees a voice long after AAPI Heritage Month concludes. ERGs are employee-led business organizations that unite employees under shared experiences, common goals or celebratory events. For example, ADP has a business resource group (BRG) called Elevate. Comprising some of ADP's AAPI leaders and open to all ADP employees, Elevate hosts AAPI-focused events and activities during AAPI Heritage Month and beyond. Its overarching goal is to empower people to realize their full career potential by providing networking opportunities, cultural awareness events, leadership development and community outreach initiatives. Could you start or join a similar ERG?
5. Ask AAPI employees to share their stories
Perhaps nothing could be more critical during AAPI Heritage Month than listening to the unique stories of your AAPI employees. Consider tactfully and politely asking your AAPI employees to share their experiences on internal communication channels as a learning and relationship-building opportunity for everyone. Be accepting, kind and respectful if they don't want to share, and remember not to pressure or otherize anyone. With their permission and support in place first, you could share their stories to your business's social media accounts and use it as an opportunity to highlight your AAPI employees' contributions. And don't let those incredible stories get lost in internal or external feeds. Could you put them into an AAPI Heritage Month scrapbook that employees can view year-round?
Recognizing AAPI Heritage Month at work
No matter how you recognize Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month at work, remember to do it with authenticity, sensitivity, kindness and sincerity. AAPI communities bring unique experiences and insights to the workplace. No matter the time of year, every AAPI workplace community and its allies deserve a safe, inclusive space to celebrate their heritage and talk about the topics that matter most to them.
"Fostering an inclusive workplace that instills a sense of belonging, safety, support and understanding should be a continual priority for organizations that benefit from AAPI communities' contributions, experiences and talents," says Bob Lockett, chief diversity and talent officer, ADP. "In the context of inclusion, nothing could be more important than creating spaces where these communities can feel seen, heard and valued, where they can thrive and continue being their best, authentic selves at work."
For more on inclusive behaviors and practices that can help your organization do and be its best, visit ADP's Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I) Resource Hub.
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