How To Honor AAPI Heritage Month in Your Workplace

How To Honor AAPI Heritage Month in Your Workplace

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During the month of May, we have the privilege to honor and celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage and the contributions, history, and achievements the community has made in the United States. In order to accurately appreciate AAPI Heritage Month, we must first understand the why and the who...

What is AAPI Heritage Month?

May was officially designated as Asian Pacific American Heritage Month in 1992 to celebrate the arrival of the first Japanese immigrants to the United States on May 7, 1943 and the Chinese laborers’ large contribution to building the transcontinental railroad, which was finished in May 1869. It is a time to recognize and celebrate the diversity and cultural richness of over 23 million Americans in the United States

The term AAPI is an acronym for Asian American and Pacific Islander. In 1997, the White House Office of Management and Budget made the two terms “Asian” and “Pacific Islander” two separate racial categories. Specifically, the U.S. Census Bureau classifies people of Asian descent as “having origins in any of the original peoples of the Far East, Southeast Asia, or the Indian subcontinent,” including, but not limited to China, Japan, Thailand, Malaysia, Korea, India, Cambodia, Vietnam or the Philippines.

While, Pacific Islanders are people who descended from the islands of Polynesia, Micronesia, and Melanesia. This classification includes but is not limited to people from Native Hawaii, Samoa, Tahiti, Guam, Fiji, and Papua New Guinea.

AAPI communities include approximately 50 distinct ethnic groups speaking over 100 languages. Regardless of the origin, AAPI Heritage is celebrated all over the United States not just in the month of May but year-round. Many communities find solitude and come together to support one another through gatherings, celebrations, and storytelling.

We aspire to promote greater understanding and appreciation of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in American society this May. A great place to do this is within your companies and organizations.

How to Honor and Celebrate AAPI Heritage In Your Workplace

As we honor AAPI Heritage Month throughout May, we look to bring together our organizations and celebrate the unique culture, history, and experiences of the community. To best achieve this, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  1. Be Proactive. Plan Your Programming Ahead of Time - In order to truly honor DEI moments, start planning ahead of time. Set your intention and what you want to achieve during this time. Keep that philosophy in mind while you brainstorm ideas on how you want to celebrate or raise awareness. This plan should not just be for the month of May but for 365. Planning last minute can seem less authentic.
  2. Be Authentic and Intentional - Employees must feel included, represented, and safe. When we work to bring awareness to marginalized communities, we have to keep in mind the specific nuances and experiences of the group and be conscious of how we celebrate that.
  3. Involve the Community In Planning - Bring a few ideas to team members who represent the AAPI community and understand their wants and needs. Leave room for them to suggest what they think feels authentic to them or not. Another strategy would be to create a culture committee for your year-round DEI moments.

Now that we have our intentions set, it is time to start brainstorming some amazing ideas on how to celebrate and honor AAPI Heritage this month! Luckily, we have some suggestions for you:

Unique Ways to Appreciate AAPI Heritage in Your Hybrid Workplace

Educate and Raise Awareness

Facilitate Lunch & Learns 

Host an optional in-person or virtual show & tell. Ask your employees from the AAPI community if they would like to share and demonstrate something about themselves. One idea may be a cooking session where they prepare a dish from their home or show and tell an item that represents their heritage. Create a space that feels safe, optional, and specific to the person.

If you have the budget, hire a speaker to present on a topic. The Rise Journey brings incredible live presentations with speakers on a range of topics. For $2,200.00, your team can hear an amazing presentation on how to "Elevate your AAPI Leaders".

Screen a television show, movie, or documentary from the AAPI community. Good Docs provides a list of incredible documentaries to watch for AAPI heritage month here.

Asian protestors on the street

Host a Virtual Class

Take Chinese Calligraphy for beginners with Udemy. Only $16 per person and your team can learn from 3 hours of on-demand instruction.

Learn all about Yoga. Mindbody has virtual live and on-demand yoga classes. Take a mental break from work and practice the art of Yoga.

All About Yoga: Poses, Types, Benefits, and More | Everyday Health

Create a Living Document

Crowd-source and share a Google doc or spreadsheet with a list of books, films, tv shows, or music created or featuring people of the AAPI community. It can be updated year-round and re-shared in the weeks prior to May.

Take over Slack

An employee can take over a different channel each week and share ways they celebrate their heritage. Again, invite employees to honor in ways that feel comfortable to them and make it optional.

Share AAPI educational resources through existing channels such as:

Engage in Local AAPI Community-Based Educational Events

Do some research in your local area to find educational opportunities to learn more about the AAPI Community. For example, the New York City parks department offers free history tours and other outdoor events. Such as the Nature Calligraphy walk in the Bronx.

Virtually Visit Museums and Locations Featuring AAPI History and Art


Celebrate & Give Back

Encourage Employees to Attend a Local Parade or Culture FestivalHow To Honor AAPI Heritage Month in Your Workplace

    • Seattle Center Festal Asian American Heritage Month Celebration on May 6th
    • San Diego AAPI Cultural Festival on May 20th
    • Austin, Texas CelebrAsia Festival on May 13th
    • New York City Asian Pacific American Cultural Parade May 21st

Host or Attend a Food Festival with Vendors from the AAPI Community

In the Los Angeles area, the county is hosting a Food Fest for AAPI Heritage month. If you have offices or team members working in person, you can host a potluck with vendors from your local community.

For our remote teams, offer free lunch one day during May and send each team member an Uber Eats or Door Dash credit. Encourage them to purchase lunch from a AAPI-owned business.

Host a Virtual Game Show with Luna Park!

The true art of celebration is having fun & spending time with your team and community. Here at Luna Park, we’ve created an incredibly fun and educational game show hosted by professional comedians on a platform purpose-built for an interactive game show. What better way to celebrate AAPI community than by playing games and learning about AAPI heritage! Here are some examples:

First off, we honor AAPI history with our  "Who Did It First" game. In this game, players combine their knowledge to match the notable AAPI icon to the famous first achievement. Together, we celebrate the achievements of the AAPI community and the impact they have had on the world.

How To Honor AAPI Heritage Month in Your Workplace

Now your team is thoroughly educated on AAPI history, it is time to play - "It's Customary". Traditions and customs are an important part of the AAPI community, offering a glimpse into the history and ways of this unique and diverse demographic.  In this game, players will use reasoning, logic and geographical knowledge, in order to fill in the missing word from a particular country's custom.  

How To Honor AAPI Heritage Month in Your Workplace

Support AAPI Locally Owned Businesses

Encourage team members to take a tour around their neighborhoods to support AAPI locally owned businesses or shop online at the list we have provided here.

Celebrate A Team Member Through Company Social Media

Ask to spotlight the individual and share the ways they honor their culture. Making it super optional is key!


Ideas From Companies We Love

Ana Castillo, Sr. People Operations Analyst from ShortCut, answers the following questions:How To Honor AAPI Heritage Month in Your Workplace

1.In what ways is your organization celebrating AAPI Heritage Month this year?

To celebrate AAPI Heritage Month this year, our organization has created a month-long calendar full of ideas for honoring AAPI culture and history. Suggestions include reading articles, listening to podcasts, and more. Additionally, we are hosting several virtual events to recognize the achievements of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, such as a tea tasting and a trivia game.

2. How are you involving and celebrating the individuals at your company who might identify as a part of the AAPI community?

We encourage all our employees to share their ideas/stories during our monthly diversity and inclusion meetings and have created a safe space for them to express their experiences.

3. What do you think is the best way to be authentic around celebrating DEI moments like this?

Use the opportunity to learn more about the DEI topics being discussed and the individuals involved, and be willing to listen and engage in constructive dialogue. We did a lot of research to put our AAPI Heritage Month calendar together, taking the time to be intentional with educating ourselves and being thoughtful in the content being shared. We also open it up to anyone in our D&I committee to share/edit the content in the calendar before sharing it company-wide.

How To Honor AAPI Heritage Month in Your Workplace

Erin Williams, Employee Experience Lead answers the following questions:
1.In what ways is your organization celebrating AAPI Heritage month this year?
We are having a film discussion of Everything Everywhere All at Once, hosting and interview with Jeff Yang about the rise and importance of the AAPI community pop culture, doing slack takeovers each Tuesday celebrating different aspects of the AAPI Heritage (cooking, photos, history, etc), we are also sending out a newsletter with different AAPI business to support this month (and always).
2. How are you involving and celebrating the individuals at your company who might identify as a part of the AAPI community?
With the planning, we defer to our AAPI ERG and we work together with them to create programming based on what they want. The last thing we would want to do is assume that the programming our AAPI colleagues would want.
3. What do you think is the best way to be authentic around celebrating DEI moments like this?
I feel the best way to be authentic in celebrating these DEI moments is to listen. In my role, I get to work closely with all ERGs to create company wide, and sometimes just ERG specific, programming. What I think would be good, is not always what is wanted or needed form the group I'm supporting, so just sitting back and listening is incredibly impactful. As a white woman, I feel it is important that rather than speaking for a group, I hold up the metaphorical microphone so that their voices can be amplified. And then, I can work my employee experience magic and make these ideas come to life!

Luna Park Honors a Few of Our AAPI Colleagues

During AAPI Heritage month, we celebrate the countless contributions our Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) colleagues have made to our nation. Join us in honoring the heritage of our AAPI colleagues right here at Luna Park.

How To Honor AAPI Heritage Month in Your Workplace

Boen Jiang - He/Him

Role: Director of Product Design. Heritage: Chinese/China/East Asian. First generation immigrant.

In what way do you personally celebrate or honor your heritage? 

Celebrate Chinese festivals with my friends and family. Food is a big part of my culture, making dumplings together is something we always do during the festival. I also attend Asian themed events and parties (in NYC) which celebrate Asian culture and LGBTQ+ identity.

What is your favorite memory of a time you were able to honor or celebrate your heritage?

One of my favorite memories is my mom teaching my husband (who is White American) how to make dumplings. Now my husband is pretty good at it and he teaches my friends the technique he learnt from my mom. Seeing people sharing and celebrating the culture together is the most beautiful thing.

How To Honor AAPI Heritage Month in Your WorkplaceTravis Long - He/Him

Role: Head of Business Development. Heritage: Half Filipino/Irish.

In what way do you personally celebrate or honor your heritage? 

Although my mother and I rarely get to celebrate together, when we do we always connect over food. Pancit, fresh Lumpia, and don't get me started on the Chicken Adobo.

What is your favorite memory of a time you were able to honor or celebrate your heritage?

My favorite memory is seeing my mom spend time with one of her Filipina friends Betty. The filipino community is quite small in northeast Ohio. So seeing her connect and share similar experiences from their country is something that I'll never forget.

Celebrating & Honoring AAPI Heritage Today & Everyday

Celebrating AAPI heritage month brings attention to the unique culture, histories, and experiences, and it helps to acknowledge and appreciate the contributions and achievements of this community.

It also provides visibility and representation for Asian American individuals, who have historically been underrepresented in many areas of society. Now, more than ever, we must stand up and proudly celebrate the diversity that makes our country stronger. With these ideas and inspiration, your organization can foster a meaningful and appreciative AAPI Heritage month.


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