Harness AAPI Employee Spotlight
See how we're living our values as part of AAPI Heritage Month.
By Stephanie Wong, Tony Do, Cassie Souza, and Debbie Trinh
During May, we are living our values ‘Remember The Human’ and ‘Celebrate Together’ as part of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month. We are fortunate to have team members from many Asian American and Pacific Islander communities, including our founder, Jyoti Bansal, who is a first generation South Asian. We, as AAPI-identifying employees, are happy to share more about our culture, accomplishments, and what allyship can look like.
Large Enterprise Sales Manager
Chinese Vietnamese American
What Excites Me About AAPI Heritage Month
Whether immigrant or native-born, we all contribute to the rich history of America. AAPI contributions include building our nation’s first transcontinental railroads, fighting in multiple wars, representing the US in the Olympics, founding and growing tech companies, and the list goes on.
I often joke that orange chicken is my favorite ‘American’ cuisine. Without the AAPI community and contributions, our nation would be quite different. AAPI Heritage Month is important to me because it highlights our collective AAPI contributions and recognizes and validates that we are indeed part of the United States’ past, future, and present.
An AAPI Role Model I Look Up
Yuri Kochiyama is someone I greatly admire. She was born in the San Francisco Bay Area to Japanese immigrants and grew up playing sports, volunteering with the Girl Scouts, and attending church. Despite being a citizen by birthright, she and her family were placed in a concentration camp during World War II. Not only was she a key figure in the AAPI community, but a leader in the civil rights movement. Yuri fought alongside Malcolm X and for solidarity among all oppressed people of color.
A Way Non-AAPI People Can Be AAPI Allies
There have been numerous attacks and hate crimes committed against the AAPI community in recent years. Incidents such as Xiao Zhen Xie, a 75-year-old woman who was punched in the face in San Francisco; six Asian American women murdered in an Atlanta shooting spree tied to the objectification and sexualization of Asian-American women; the murder of Michelle Alyssa Go, who was pushed in front of an ongoing train in New York City; these are among the stories shared in the community, but they are just the ones that have been reported.
Occurrences like these are often unreported, and more often than not, unheard. I believe the best thing anyone can do to support the AAPI community is to continue to speak up and step in when they see Asians (or anyone, for that matter) being discriminated against, bullied, harassed, or attacked, and to take the time to learn more about AAPI contributions to our community.
Manager, People Operations
How I am Recognizing and Celebrating AAPI Heritage Month
I’m currently watching PBS Asian Americans film series. The intimate stories resonate with me as a first generation Asian American, especially since I grew up hearing stories from my parents and extended family about their immigration journey. Sharing these stories not only helps the AAPI community reflect on their own history, but we can celebrate the accomplishments of immigrants who came before us and inform others of the constant struggle that still occurs today.
What Is a Way Non-AAPI People Can Be AAPI Allies?
I think we can all be better allies to each other by just simply asking, “How are you?” With everyone working from home and water cooler chats gone, it’s more difficult to know how your coworkers are actually doing when it’s so easy to hop on Zoom and dive right into your meeting.
During the height of the pandemic when violence against Asian Americans skyrocketed, it meant so much to me when my coworkers reached out to ask how I was doing. When we had a Safe Space Open Forum after the Atlanta spa shootings, it was the first time in my career that something like this was made available to me and it really helped me feel recognized and supported by my coworkers—and Harness as a whole.
Worldwide Senior Director, Commercial Sales Engineering
Something Special About My Culture
Family value is embedded into every culture. The Asian culture is no different. How we celebrate is a bit different from Western culture. We are born and raised to have the family first mindset. At an early age, we are taught to respect our parents and elders. As Asians adapted themselves into the Western culture, we still maintain our traditions. To this day, in every corner of the earth where there is an Asian family, it is common to have three (if you are lucky, four) generations living under the same roof. It doesn’t matter what religion or region you are from, there are traditions in place to honor your parents/elders during their life events as well as in death.
Every Asian culture performs this ritual a bit differently, but the common theme is the gathering of family and close friends with a big feast. One of our Laotian family friend's mother is ill, and doctors have informed her that her time is limited. With that news, our friend prepared a small gathering called Soma to ask for forgiveness and honor her mother and father in front of family and friends.
Soma is a blessings and forgiveness ceremony that is usually done during the Lao New Year. Usually sons and daughters do soma for their parents to ask for forgiveness for all the things that they’ve possibly done wrong within the past year. Then the parents give blessings and well wishes back to their children.
We also honor our family members, even after death, on their anniversary. We celebrate and honor their contribution to our lives with a big feast, and pray for continued support through this journey we call life. We pray that our ancestors will continue to watch over us and lead us, even in death. Simply put, we truly believe that without them, we would not be here. We do what we can to ensure our parents/elders know how much we appreciate the gift of life and their wise teachings on how to navigate the world in peace.
A Recent Achievement I’m Proud of
On the theme of family, my in-laws and mother have worked their entire lives to provide us with the best life that they can. They risked everything to immigrate to America during—or post—war times, leaving everything they had behind to start over.
Our parents are not scholars. They barely passed elementary school, and without speaking the local language, they took odd jobs here and there. With this, they didn’t save for their retirement, but they poured every cent they had into providing us with everything they could afford. We were their retirement plan, and I am proud to say that we were able to retire both my in-laws and my mother. They are now living the life they deserve and traveling the world without worrying about tomorrow.
A Recent Achievement I’m Proud of
I'm about to close on my second investment property, and a third is in the works! This may be a small feat to some, but is extremely exciting for me. I grew up in a working class household, and investments of any sort were never a topic of conversation. I'm thankful for the opportunity of having friends and mentors that introduced me to the idea of long-term wealth. Especially so I can share the knowledge with my own family and implement it for myself.
How Non-AAPI People Can Be AAPI Allies
This is a hard question for me to answer. Every person you talk to has a different expectation on what should be done to represent themselves as a proper ally. For me, being an ally comes in many shapes and sizes. You don't always have to be the most vocal in the room in order to make an impact. Little actions truly go a long way.
To be a better ally, I would urge people to simply try new foods—specifically, ethnic food. Introduce your friends, family, or coworkers to your favorites! I find that it's hard to exclude a group if you find yourself eating their cuisine every week. No matter what the cuisine is, you can learn so much about the history, climate, and culture by opening your eyes to the different options out there. We all come from different backgrounds and we all have to eat at the end of the day. Next time you’re trying to decide on what to eat for take-out, try something new or introduce a loved one to something new.
As we continue to grow and expand our team around the globe, creating a safe space for employees from all backgrounds and finding fun and unique ways to recognize and celebrate our unique cultural differences is of utmost importance. If this resonates with you, we are hiring across all departments and geographies. As they say, timing is everything. Interested, but not ready to make a job move quite yet? Join our Harness Talent Community on LinkedIn to stay connected and in the know.