How the Momentive Asian and Pacific Islander ERG supports our community
Our Asian and Pacific Islander ERG, Mosaic, is committed to celebrating our heritage not just in May, but all year round.
This post was written by Melanie Lei with input from Rachel Yuen, members of Mosaic.
This May’s Asian Pacific Islander (API) Heritage Month is wrapping up, but at Momentive, we believe that all groups at work should be celebrated year-round. Momentive’s API employee resource group (ERG), Mosaic, is a vibrant community of 200+ employees who participate in learning, workshops, and cultural celebrations year-round. We’d like to share how we built our API community at work in hopes of inspiring and connecting with employees in similar roles at other companies.
Mosaic was founded in 2018 after its co-founders were inspired by the overwhelming response to a Momentive-sponsored movie outing, when 70+ employees came out to watch Crazy Rich Asians—a groundbreaking movie with an all-Asian cast. Realizing there was a bigger opportunity to bring the API community together, Mosaic launched with a Lunar New Year lion dance and a Holi celebration with colorful powder throwing.
From the beginning, Mosaic’s mission has been “to strengthen the experiences and advancement of Asians and Pacific Islanders in the workplace through increasing awareness of our diverse and multicultural community, fostering connections, and promoting professional development.” We recruited an action committee to help organize cultural celebrations and professional development events, including several people dedicated to internal communications with our members and external connections to other API ERGs.
Recently, we hosted Mosaic’s founders for an alumni panel event to reflect on the origin story of the group and being API in the workplace. When asked about founding Mosaic, our former executive sponsor reflected: “I am a builder at heart, thinking about how to go from 0 to 1, just like building a product MVP. When we started, we decided to focus on the mission, create the charter, and identify what pillars to focus on. Then we focused on cultural events and making a big splash.”
As the pandemic hit in 2020, the nature of employee resource group engagement changed drastically. Suddenly we were all at home, unable to meet in the office to celebrate cultural events with food and activities. In the wake of a national focus on racial injustice, we turned to events that could be held virtually, like community chats and an Asians for Black Lives allyship event. We created new action committee roles to lead programming in areas of racial justice, mental health, educational awareness, and storytelling, and added an EU chapter volunteer to better support the needs of our European colleagues. This action committee of super-volunteers has been instrumental in enabling us to organize and host dozens of events a year in a wide swath of areas that meet our members’ diverse needs. Examples of recent events include:
- Sahaj Kohli of Brown Girl Therapy for a workshop on Mental Health for BIPOCs in the Workplace, in collaboration with other ERGs
- Collaborating with the Momentive research team and AAPI Data, an activist nonprofit that publishes disaggregated demographic data on Asian/Pacific Islander Americans, on an annual study tracking racial discrimination experienced by APIs and other minoritized groups
- Professional development panels and workshops led by internal API leaders who share knowledge and personal anecdotes about breaking through the “bamboo ceiling”, negotiating, and self-advocacy
- Cultural celebrations to bring joy to our community and educate our allies about our heritage, including a fasting challenge for Ramadan, and trivia, games, and storytelling for Holi, Mid-Autumn Festival, Diwali, and Lunar New Year
- Collaborating with other ERGs at Momentive on intersectional events:
- Fireside chat with Sylvia Ng of Amidira, cancer survivor, mom of two, and API product leader, with our caregivers’ ERG, C.A.R.E.
- Negotiations Workshop with our LGBTQ+ ERG, The Queerious
- Book Club with our women’s ERG, WIN
Beyond events, we also use Slack and email for ongoing conversations:
- Cultural spotlights to highlight underrepresented API groups, such as the Samoan and Hmong communities
- Weekly employee spotlights sharing API recommendations and fun facts to connect members
- Responding to news events and directing employees to resources, organizations to donate to, and activism
- Quarterly newsletter recapping past event takeaways, promoting future events, and highlighting API employee excellence and promotions
- Slack watercooler channel using donut that randomly pairs API employees for 1:1 chats
In order to keep in touch with our members’ needs, we continually survey them about their interests and ask for event feedback - after all, we’re a feedback company! We’ve found our survey results to be invaluable in prioritizing our programming and advocating for our members. For example, when we learned via surveys that self-advocacy was the most important professional development topic for our members, we invited DEI consultant Richard Leong to lead a workshop on combating the Systems Behind Imposter Thoughts.
As racial justice awareness has grown in the corporate world over the last several years, diversity, equity and inclusion has solidified as a must-have for any company seeking to attract and retain top talent. We’re proud to share our founding story and how we’ve evolved over the last four years as an ERG.