Support Asian American & Pacific Islander Communities This Month And Beyond!
May is Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month—a time to honor and recognize the contributions and culture of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. To celebrate the AAPI community during a meaningful time, May was chosen to commemorate the first Japanese citizen’s immigration to America and to memorialize Chinese immigrants’ work on the transcontinental railroad. While AAPI history and achievements should be studied every day, May is a great starting point for a year-round Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging (DEIB) initiative to honor the Asian and Pacific Islander communities.
Throughout the month of May, businesses of all sizes celebrate AAPI Heritage Month. For many, this means researching educational opportunities, attending local and virtual events, supporting Asian-owned businesses, or giving back to AAPI nonprofits. While these are all great ways to celebrate, it's crucial to do so in a meaningful way. Let’s delve into some key considerations before launching an AAPI-related DEIB initiative within your organization.
1. Highlight Diversity
A common mistake organizations make when acknowledging AAPI Heritage Month is excluding all of the countries and ethnicities that make up both the Asian and Pacific Islander identity. If your business is planning to celebrate this month, your events should reflect the full spectrum of identities—not just a handful of countries. AAPI heritage represents individuals from nearly 50 countries who speak over 2,000 languages. As a result, there’s no single way to represent one monolithic Asian experience. If you’re planning to host speakers or panelists, aim to showcase stories and perspectives from a couple of different Asian cultures. A successful campaign will highlight individual experiences without ignoring the varying identities and histories that make up the AAPI community.
2. Let the Community Speak
When launching a corporate DEIB initiative, engaging your workforce is key. Employees will be more inclined to participate in your programs or events if they had a say in making them happen. A great way to gauge what your employees want is to send a survey asking how they’d like to celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. Offer some options for them to choose from, but also provide the opportunity for employees to make suggestions.
It’s crucial for AAPI Heritage Month activities to be Asian-led, but you don’t want to assume these employees want to spend the month educating the organization. By offering a company-wide survey, employees interested in taking the lead can volunteer their efforts. Your organization should provide the support, resources, and leadership buy-in for these events and ideas, but it’s crucial they are led by AAPI individuals.
3. Go Beyond May
When May comes to a close and June rolls around, it can be easy for businesses to move on to the next diversity day or awareness month. But your Asian and Pacific Islander employees don’t have that luxury. How is your organization showing up for AAPI communities all year? What are you doing to amplify their voices when May ends? The answer is year-round DEIB initiatives. Here are a few places you can start:
- Interrogate biases. Examine your processes for hiring, feedback, performance ratings, promotions, etc., and how they affect marginalized groups at your company.
- Create a culture of inclusivity. While diverse hiring is surely important, it won’t amount to much unless you create a space that listens to those diverse voices and implements change based on alternative perspectives.
- Leverage employee resource groups. If your company doesn’t already have an employee resource group (ERG) for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, assist them in implementing one.
- Enable recurring giving. Don’t stop supporting AAPI nonprofits when May ends. Partner with these organizations year-round and offer credit card giving to employees so they can donate on a recurring basis.
- Year-round activities. Plan activities throughout the year that amplify AAPI voices so when May ends, your work doesn’t.
Now it’s time to kickstart your AAPI Heritage Month initiative! We’ve compiled a few ways your company can celebrate AAPI culture, heritage, and experiences throughout May and all year. Plus, we’ve included a sneak peek at what other organizations are doing!
Amplify AAPI Voices
How can your organization elevate the voices of Asian and Pacific Islander leaders, activists, or creators across industries?
Consider sponsoring an event or workshop to not only learn about AAPI experiences but also about allyship. This is a great opportunity to engage your Asian and Pacific Islander employees and invite them to share their own experiences and perspectives. In doing so, you not only amplify their voices but foster a more inclusive corporate culture.
Take the opportunity to learn more about the lives, experiences, and rich histories of AAPI communities through the written word. Here is a great list of Asian authored books to share company-wide or encourage employees to tune into a conversation with individuals from the Asian Authors Alliance. You can even host a company-sponsored book club to incentivize employees to engage with these works and discuss common themes represented.
Don’t discount the power of cinema. Hosting a movie night is a great way for employees to exchange ideas and get to know fellow colleagues, all while supporting Asian creatives. This group can vote on a movie to watch and prepare discussion questions to guide your conversation. Rotten Tomatoes has taken the guesswork out of selecting a movie—explore their guide to the best Asian-American movies of all time.
Although movies and books are popular amongst many, some of your employees may prefer educational resources in the form of music and podcasts. Luckily, Spotify has created an AAPI content hub dedicated to amplifying the voices of AAPI creators across the audio landscapes.
Amplify AAPI Voices- Comcast
Don’t just take our word for it! Some of our incredible Impact Makers have already launched powerful AAPI Heritage month initiatives. For Comcast, celebrating diverse voices and stories through TV and film is their specialty. Throughout AAPI Heritage Month and year-round, Xfinity customers can visit their Asian American Film & TV Collection for on-demand access to stories centered on the AAPI experience.
But their work this month doesn’t stop there! Comcast has partnered with Gold House and the Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival (PAAFF) as guest content curators to share some of their expert movie and TV recommendations during this culturally important time of year.
“We are thrilled to collaborate, once again, with Gold House and, for the first time, with PAAFF in celebration of AAPI Heritage Month, to offer our customers even more curated content this year than ever before.” -Keesha Boyd, Executive Director, Multicultural Video & Entertainment, Xfinity Consumer Services
Support Organizations Fighting Anti-Asian Discrimination
Crimes targeting Asian Americans have risen dramatically since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. Stop AAPI Hate, a coalition that tracks incidents of violence and harassment against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the U.S. reported nearly 3,800 instances of discrimination against Asians from 2020 to 2021.
Throughout May and beyond, it's crucial to support organizations working to ensure safety and equality for AAPI communities. Consider making a donation on behalf of your company, implementing an employee giving campaign, or both. Giving back to community-based organizations is a powerful way to make a direct impact, here are some organizations to consider.
Beyond donations, there are tons of other ways to support the AAPI community and fight anti-Asian racism. By making it easy for employees to sign petitions, attend AAPI Heritage Month events, enroll in bystander intervention training, and reach out to their elected officials (the list goes on!), you can encourage them to take action. Compile a list of ways to support the AAPI community and share them with your employees in an email, newsletter, or even on your CSR software platform. Here are some resources to get you started.
Bank of America’s Commitment to Racial Equality and Economic Opportunity
Last year, Bank of America announced its plan to increase their $1 billion, four-year commitment to advance racial equality and economic opportunity to $1.25 billion over five years. They also announced an immediate $1 million commitment and related actions in support of increased advocacy, dialogue, and engagement with the AAPI community.
“The urgency we feel to address long-standing issues of inclusion and racial inequality has only increased following the attacks and hate speech directed at Asian people over the last year,” said Bank of America Chairman and CEO Brian Moynihan. “Across the public and private sectors, it is clear that we must do more – to take action, help others convene, and serve as a catalyst for a broad-based, collective response to the critical issues affecting our nation.”
Here’s a closer look at their commitment:
- A grant to Asian Americans Advancing Justice (Advancing Justice) to support their work in promoting civil rights, bystander intervention, social services assistance, and legal support.
- The addition of Connie Chung Joe, CEO of Asian Americans Advancing Justice, to Bank of America’s National Community Advisory Council (NCAC), in support of ongoing dialogue and stakeholder engagement with the Asian community in the U.S., and on broader issues of gender and racial equality.
- Additional support for the National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development (National CAPACD) and The Leadership Conference Education Fund as the two organizations work to advance local advocacy, training, and resources through community-based efforts.
Shop AAPI-Owned Businesses
As pandemic restrictions are lifted, go out and support Asian-owned restaurants and small businesses. Many Asian neighborhoods were hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic and some saw a drop-off in business due to anti-Asian rhetoric, says Debbie Chen, executive vice president for OCA-Asian Pacific American Advocates. Now is the perfect opportunity to shop locally and support AAPI founders and entrepreneurs!
If you’d rather provide support virtually, take a tour through Gold House’s Gold Rush Market, featuring AAPI-owned businesses. Founded in 2019, Gold House was built for and by Asian and Pacific Islander founders to overcome societal stereotypes and seed the next generation of successful AAPI entrepreneurs and C-Suite leaders. Each May, they host an online marketplace to showcase AAPI-founded start-ups.
This is also a great opportunity to engage your employees! Send out a company-wide survey and ask your workforce to identify local, AAPI-owned businesses they love and want to support. Compile a comprehensive list of responses and share it with your workforce in an email, newsletter, or blog post. You can even take it a step further and support these businesses directly. The next time you’re in the market for a caterer or locally-sourced swag box, consult this list of businesses and support the AAPI community year-round!
Celebrate AAPI Founders & Creators- Target
To celebrate AAPI Heritage Month this year, Target has curated a shopping hub featuring products from Asian-led brands. Here, you can find anything from skincare and wellness products to cooking and dining appliances all from Asian American or Pacific Islander founders and entrepreneurs. By providing consumers with a one-stop-shop, it's easier than ever to support the AAPI community!
Beyond merely showcasing these products, Target has taken it a step further to highlight the people behind the brands. Each product featured within their hub includes the story or mission behind the business and what sets it apart from others within their industry. So, if you’re in the market for a great new beauty product or healthy snack alternative, head to Target’s shopping hub to support AAPI founders.
A Year-Round Commitment
Throughout May, it's important to recognize the contributions and culture of Asian American and Pacific Islander communities. But your support for them shouldn’t stop there! AAPI Heritage Month is simply a jumping-off point. Supporting AAPI communities requires a long-term investment and a year-round strategy.
Don’t fret! You’re not in it alone. As your trusted partner in CSR, CyberGrants can help maximize your impact this month and all year with:
- Seamless Grantmaking
- Employee Giving Programs
- Recurring Giving
- Flexible, Innovative Volunteer Management