Since 1992, May has been designated as Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month to commemorate these communities in the U.S. Here at Dataminr, we’re honored and excited to use this special occasion to celebrate our AAPI colleagues’ rich cultures, as well as what they have achieved and contributed to the company’s success, culture and growth.
It’s also an opportune time to reflect on the hardships the AAPI community across the country has had to face over the past couple of years, largely during the COVID-19 pandemic.
As part of our continued efforts to identify opportunities that empower and increase the visibility of Dataminr employees, I sat down with Alice Lu, Dataminr Senior Customer Success Associate, U.S. Department of Defense, and Global Co-Lead of the Asian@Dataminr employee resource group (ERG). We discussed her experience throughout this difficult time, why this month of reflection is important and what we all can do to support our diverse employee base.
Here’s what Alice had to say.
This year, this month seems to hold more significance for the AAPI community, given what has happened to it over the last two years and with anti-Asian hate crimes surging by 340%. Has this changed the way you recognize the month? How will you support and/or celebrate your community outside and at the workplace?
I honestly never celebrated AAPI Heritage Month. I didn't realize I needed a space to connect with other Asian Americans about our experiences growing up. But ever since the recent rise in anti-Asian hate crimes, I've found it so important to be able to get together with other Asian colleagues, candidly share thoughts and concerns about how it feels to be Asian American, and celebrate our achievements and heritage.
I'm thrilled to see that Dataminr has introduced several initiatives to spotlight Asian employees as well as issues facing Asian Americans. As to how I’m going to celebrate this month—I'm definitely going to eat out at local Asian restaurants. So many have struggled during the pandemic; they need our support.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been particularly hard on the AAPI community, partly due to the anti-Asian rhetoric used to describe the origin and spread of the virus. How have you navigated this difficult period?
The past year has been difficult for me as a young Asian woman living in New York City. I don't feel comfortable walking around at night or even alone during the day. What’s even more distressing is the fact that my parents moved to the San Francisco area, where many anti-Asian hate crimes have occurred. As a child, you never want to think “Are my parents safe?” It's unfortunate that we've come to this point.
On a brighter side, the AAPI community has seen a lot more media representation over the past few years—from Disney and Pixar to Hollywood and Netflix. What do you think has driven this change? How do you feel about it?
I think because of recent events, people are noticing the rise in discrimination against people of color on a national scale. And I believe more corporations are recognizing the need to have meaningful diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives and programs, including ERGs, to support their employees and the communities in which they live and work.
It's wonderful to see more Asian representation in media and entertainment. I had never felt more understood until I watched the movie The Farewell, starring actress Awkwafina. It helped me realize there are so many people who know what it's like to be Asian American, how we struggle with our identity due to the differences between our heritage and upbringing, and the difficulty to connect with our family in the motherland. It was rewarding and heartwarming to know I'm not alone.
What are some ways employees and leadership can be allies to their AAPI colleagues and support them, so that they can be their best, authentic selves at work?
The best way peers and leadership can be allies is by recognizing and acknowledging our successes. The more recognition Asian employees get in the wider company Slack channels, or shout-outs during team meetings, the more people will be aware of our accomplishments—and therefore our competency.
It’s also crucial for companies to create a safe space for underrepresented groups to be vulnerable and connect with others who share similar experiences. We’re able to do this in our Asian@Dataminr ERG meetings. Being able to hear other people's stories that are very similar to mine is incredible—from what it feels like to be a token Asian friend and one of the few Asian students in class to being embarrassed for bringing a “weird” lunch to school.
I’m proud that Dataminr facilitates and fosters such an inclusive environment for its employees—none of my friends' companies do this.
What does AAPI Heritage Month mean to you as an Asian American and as the global co-leader of Asian@Dataminr ERG? And what is the ERG doing to celebrate this time?
We should use this month to celebrate our extraordinary, diverse cultures and the contributions we've made to society. For so long, we were told to just keep our heads down, be quiet and focus on work—while never highlighting our achievements. In the midst of widespread anti-Asian sentiment, it’s even more important to remind ourselves that we are valued and special, and deserve to be recognized for that.
This year, Asian@Dataminr is presenting a series of exciting events and resources, including:
It’s a privilege and a joy for me to honor my heritage and community this month through these Dataminr events. They are excellent opportunities to amplify AAPI voices and share our stories with the entire organization, so that we can learn together and continue to advance equity and justice for all.
Robin Strup is Vice President of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Dataminr. She has over 25 years of experience in DEI strategies and communication across multiple organizations and industries. Robin is a graduate of Georgetown University’s Executive Strategic Diversity and Inclusion Management leadership program with a passion and expertise in leveraging behavioral science interventions to improve business outcomes.