Celebrating Asian Pacific American Heritage Month at PwC

Celebrating heritage months and observances that are important to employees is core to PwC’s efforts to foster a culture of belonging for all. One way the firm cultivates this is through its practice of acknowledging and celebrating the intersectionality of its workforce. By elevating the voices of its people, empowering them to create space to tell their own stories and learn from one another through channels such as one of our 11 Inclusion Networks, PwC encourages its people to connect across cultures.

To celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month (APAHM) and to amplify the perspective of the more than 5,000 members of the Pan-Asian Inclusion Network (PACIN), here are three things to know about diversity, allyship, pride and perseverance.

The diversity of the Asian diaspora runs deep

PACIN has grown by 11% percent over the last year to more than 5,000 members, many of whom sit at various intersections of identity and representation. This, they say, is the beauty of the Asian community.

“There are so many nationalities, cultures and traditions within the Asian community,” Brian Mathews, Trust Solutions Senior Manager said. “In fact, there are over 700 languages spoken in South Asia alone.” 

PACIN reflects and supports this incredibly diverse community, and PwC employees are coming together to encourage the creation of more spaces to connect with each other and share culture. Many PACIN members also engage with chapters of the Inter-Belief Inclusion Network (IBIN) – such as a new community recently launched for Sikh employees.

While this diversity is understood and celebrated within the community, it can be overlooked by those outside of it.

“I wish more people knew that our experiences are not a monolith. We come from various countries, cultures, religions, and backgrounds. Even within a particular ethnicity, there can be significant differences in customs, language, and values.The Asian American experience is a rich tapestry of unique perspectives, and it deserves to be celebrated and understood,” AJ Walker, Business Services Manager shared.

Further, it can be a delicate balance for those who feel they straddle multiple identities, and can be complex, in terms of how people show up in the workplace.

“People should know that Asian and American are not mutually exclusive. I was born in the US, yet, my whole life, I’ve always struggled to live in a world where my two identities are accepted as one,” said Alice Zhao, Business Services Senior Associate

“One of the ways I feel that I can bring my full self to work is seeing the firm embrace and celebrate heritages, cultures and holidays from across our nation and around the world. I always look forward to firm events that honor and celebrate our legacies.”

Active allyship and support for the Asian Pacific American community begins with learning and listening

At PwC, celebrating Asian Pacific American Heritage Month also means creating opportunities for our people to get involved. The firm is hosting engaging events with leaders in the community like Olympians Alex and Maia Shibutani as well as celebrated Chef Viet Nguyen in conversations about identity, culture and their unique lived experiences. Through events and learning resources, employees can connect with colleagues at in-person watch parties, helping to foster more space for meaningful dialogue and deeper understanding. 

“Seeing is believing!” Zhao said of the importance of events like these in the workplace. “And learning about others presents us an opportunity to expand our minds.”

That willingness to listen to and learn from each other can be critical to building on a culture of belonging, and can be the first step to being an active ally. 

“Taking the time to understand our cultures, traditions and realizing that they aren’t just ‘differences’ is so important in understanding our individual identities,” Zhao said when asked what people can do to be more intentional when it comes to allyship. 

And it’s not only listening, it’s approaching conversations with empathy, which helps build trust. 

“It's so important for allies to listen and validate our experiences without minimizing or dismissing them,” Walker said. 

While these conversations can sometimes be challenging, they’re likely necessary to fostering understanding. From there, the next step is taking action.

“Individuals can be allies by investing time and energy into understanding the unique cultures and traditions of the Asian community and making an effort to support Asian Americans in their lives and communities,” said Matthews. 

With curated learning playlists that focus on Asian culture and achievement, as well as volunteer opportunities that encourage people to get involved and give back, PwC employees can do exactly that. 

Pride and perseverance are core to celebrating Asian Pacific American heritage

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month serves as a reminder of the resiliency and persistence of the Asian community. And for members of the community, it fosters a strong sense of pride, particularly in challenging times.

“Top of mind for me have been the hateful acts of violence and xenophobia against the Asian community that have increased since the start of the pandemic. Living through a pandemic has already been a very tough, complex situation for us all, but the Asian community also had to brace ourselves for heightened awareness of our surroundings, condescending looks and fear of the unknown, simply because of the way we look,” said Zhao.

“I’m proud of the way my PwC community has stepped up to denounce the harmful behavior and violent acts and formed a chain of support and encouragement for one another,” Zhao said.

That support and resilience is an integral part of community and culture.

“One thing that makes me proud of the Asian Pacific American community is our ability to maintain our cultural traditions while adapting to life in a new country,” said Walker. “I’m also inspired by the strength and resilience of Asian American and Pacific Islander immigrants who’ve faced discrimination and hardship, yet have persevered.” 

And for PwC PACIN members who are children of immigrants, like Matthews, that perseverance is personal. 

“I take pride in my parents’ journey to America. Like many immigrants, my parents moved here with minimal support,” Matthews said. “Through hard work and perseverance, they created “the American dream” for our family and instilled in us the values and traditions that guide us to this day.”

To learn more about how PwC celebrates Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, visit the @lifeatpwc Instagram page and read more stories and experiences from PwC employees. For more on how PwC builds on its culture of belonging, check out the firm’s FY22 Purpose & Inclusion Report.

Brian Mathews, Trust Solutions Senior Manager

AJ Walker, Business Services Manager

Alice Zhao, Business Services Senior Associate

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