Asian Pacific American Heritage Month at Crunchbase: Creating Opportunity for Each Other

The Crunchbase Asian and Pacific Islander ERG (employee resource group) is a safe and inclusive group that serves employees who identify as API. This ERG was created during a time of anxiety that could have resulted in isolation. Instead, it became an unexpected catalyst for the Crunchbase API community to embrace a new level of honesty and shared identity at work.

Coming together as a community

On March 16, 2021, a shooting spree occurred at three spas in Atlanta. Eight people died, the majority of whom were Asian women.

Coming to work that day, the world didn’t just seem darker — it was darker. We were scared, but even more than that, we were angry. So Natalie started a Slack channel called #asians@crunchbase and invited API employees to join so we could scream together in safety.

Throughout the following weeks, we watched as members shared one heartbreaking story after another. We learned and grew together — supporting each other amid the chaotic instability that plagued our community.

After a few weeks had passed, we held our first Safe Spaces event — it was a time for us to grieve the lives that were brutally taken and process the implications on our community. It was a place for us to rage, cry and feel everything all at once.

Emerging stronger 

Since then, the employee community born out of devastating violence has flourished into something so much more. It has become a community that allows us to seek understanding and find support for challenges that are unique to the API experience. In 2022, we became a company-recognized ERG with the mission to serve as a visible, accessible resource for Asian and Pacific Islander employees and provide API-focused networking as well as educational and social opportunities at Crunchbase. We also formed a leadership committee with two co-leaders, a treasurer and an executive sponsor.

Our ERG has three goals:

  1. Host volunteering and donation opportunities. 
  2. Host events annually, both virtually and in-person.
  3. Lead a companywide activation around APAHM that involves virtual lunch-and-learns, sharing resources and virtual discussions.
API ERG book drive

Throughout our first year, our ERG has taken the initiative to turn these goals into real results. We led a book drive to promote more API and Black representation in local school libraries, hosted virtual discussions with Asian entrepreneurs, and gathered to celebrate Lunar New Year with none other than steaming fresh dim sum.

APAHM Month at Crunchbase

“I’m proud of what the API ERG leadership has created here at Crunchbase. Creating a resource group for API employees was important to build community and promote inclusivity, especially in a remote-first work environment. While a remote work environment offers flexibility that many employees value, employees have fewer chances to interact with each other on a day-to-day basis, so providing resources that encourage employee connections is valuable. Most importantly, supporting resource groups like these are important as they often provide safe spaces for employees to discuss thoughts and concerns around world issues ranging from representation in the workplace to anti-Asian violence.” —Marcus Lo, CFO

A large part of our community is about creating more connections around topics we uniquely care about, especially in a remote work culture. Within our private Slack channel, we can speak freely on experiences that have shaped our identities both in and outside of work: race, representation in the media, music, TV shows, special traditions, favorite foods and family superstitions. Some days we’ve teared up together,  like when Michelle Yeoh and Ke Huy Quan swept the award stages of Hollywood. On other days, we’ve shared drool-worthy photos of the Asian comfort food we grew up on.

“Work is a space where we invest a large portion of our time, which makes it even more vital that it is a safe space for individuals to express themselves. The resources that Crunchbase provides make it easy for me to connect with my peers on a deeper level. I remember during the height of violence against Asians during COVID, we shared our worries and even got into our backgrounds as children of immigrant parents. It is comforting to know that not only do my peers feel the same way I do, but that Crunchbase actively fosters this environment for us.”—Alan Liang, Customer Experience

Who we are

Crunchbase Lunar New Year Celebration

Even within the term Asian, we are an incredibly diverse group of people: our ERG members include Chinese, Vietnamese, Taiwanese, Filipino, Korean, Japanese and Indian folks. There are members who have been in the U.S. their whole lives and others who have been here for 5-10 years. We also have a diverse makeup of careers, including sales, marketing, finance, product, engineering, recruiting, executive leadership and more. As a result, these layers of diversity create a fun corner at work for us to take a mental break and hear different perspectives that start with a common thread. 

“A sense of belonging comes in many different forms. One way for me is knowing I have the opportunity to interact with my community at work and share cultural and career experiences. Having a community that is invested in professional development, cultural awareness, advocacy, and engagement, is how innovation is brought to the forefront. Cultural awareness is one way our API ERG has positively impacted me. I recall seeing a Slack message posted about Holi and Diwali and I won’t forget how it brought a huge smile to my face. I appreciated the wishes and, most importantly, it was nice to see the context of why these are celebrated and important!” —Aanal Patel, Customer Success

What’s next

Looking forward, one of our goals is to lead company-wide education on Asian Pacific American Heritage Month in May. APAHM was first officially recognized in 1992 by then-President George H.W. Bush. It has since become a time for many Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders to reflect on our rich history in the U.S. and remember those that made difficult sacrifices, battled racism and helped create the paths of opportunity we have today. Celebrating this heritage month with our teammates helps raise awareness about the unique challenges and experiences faced by API employees. For APAHM this year, we want to bring more visibility to our own wonderful community that’s grown so much in the time since the channel was created. Our theme this year is Creating Opportunity for Each Other, and we’re planning a month-long celebration of discussions and events. 

“It’s important for companies to provide professional and personal support for underrepresented employees. ERGs foster a sense of acceptance and community, while also increasing employee satisfaction. The Crunchbase API ERG has been a safe space for me to celebrate and discuss different Asian cultures and connect with my teammates on a level we don’t normally get to in our day-to-day. It has promoted cultural awareness within the company and allows me to bring my whole self to work.”—Lynette Shao, Product Marketing

Here’s how we’re involving and educating the Crunchbase team through events this month:

  • Open conversations about Asian representation in the media;
  • A panel discussion featuring South Asian leaders at the company; and
  • A lunch and learn with founders of inspiring, Asian-founded businesses.

Ultimately, we hope these events and the accomplishments of our ERG will shed light on the importance of resourcing the API community at any company. It is often difficult for individuals from underrepresented and historically marginalized groups to feel like they belong. Providing a safe, recognized space where these employees can come together is an imperative first step in taking real action on diversity, equity and inclusion. One transparent discussion and safe space at work can blossom into a community that is proud of who they are, is motivated to open new doors for others, and will actively contribute to company culture.

  • Originally published May 1, 2023