McCormick's Asian Diversity Group Provides Support and Solidarity
Employee Ambassador Groups (EAGs) at McCormick provide a supportive, collaborative space for employees to come together to promote inclusion, strengthen communities, learn new skills to advance in the workplace, and network with colleagues across the company. Operating as an extension of our Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) office, EAGs like McCormick's Asian Diversity Group (ADG) are an integral part of our culture.
Founded by Jim Lin, Director of Program Management, and Raj Nair, Vice President of Functional Foods, the ADG EAG is a valued resource. Current ADG Chair, Yen-Ching Wu, Principal Scientist of Toxicology & Food Safety, shares a great example of just why. "When McCormick was launching our Simply Asia brand, having the Asian American perspective was critical. Their perspective helped shape the advertising and marketing strategies that led the company to successfully unveil our products and gave provided the necessary cultural awareness that assisted in building our brand. The participation of Asian American employees in the launch proved invaluable and since then, business decisions throughout McCormick have included the Asian American perspective. The same held when the Company introduced French's ketchup to China. Major contributions were made and recognized," she said.
With the mission of attracting, engaging, developing, and leveraging Asian talent to further business goals and create a competitive advantage for McCormick, the ADG is centered around three channels. In the workplace, the ADG works to develop stronger connectivity with the Asian community and culture and focuses on building an inclusive community and cultural awareness. In the marketplace, they aim to leverage members' unique insight to further business goals. And in the workforce, they strive to foster the personal and professional development of members and help them integrate more with the business.
The ADG enjoys celebrating Asian holidays throughout the year, but also look at current issues affecting members, like the bamboo ceiling, which refers to the barriers faced by Asian-Americans in the workplace. Working with ASCEND, the largest non-profit Pan-Asian membership organization for business professionals in North America, the ADG identifies ways to educate and advocate on matters important to the Asian community. ADG members attend ASCEND's annual conference that showcases Asian leaders across industries who share their stories and suggest strategies on how to elevate people of Asian descent to executive and C-suite positions.
Unfortunately, during the past year, members of the ADG have had to come together in a new way. With the escalation of Asian hate crimes and violence across the nation, the ADG supported members while remaining focused on their goals. McCormick's African American Ambassador Network (AAAN) co-sponsored a coffee chat with the ADG that allowed them to check in with members and speak openly about how recent events are impacting employees, families, friends, and communities. The ADG will continue to serve as a safe space for members to share, support, and heal and as a source of comfort and solidarity. Additionally, they are collaborating with McCormick's external EAG partners in the Baltimore community to share ideas on how to raise awareness and appropriately communicate to everyone, so that those outside of the Asian community can listen and learn too.
Furthermore, Erin Wright, Data Lead, created and shared an Asian-owned Restaurant Guide to help support local businesses, some of whom have been recently vandalized. They also continue to share anti-hate community resources, which provide information on bystander intervention, how to report a hate incident, and understanding your rights to be fairly treated in public. In response to anti-Asian sentiments, McCormick's Office of Diversity & Inclusion donated $10,000 towards the 2021 Lotus Leadership Awards Gala, supporting The Asia Foundation's Women's Empowerment Program that empowers women and girls across Asia.
Although the past year has been challenging on many levels, there is still a lot to celebrate and Asian Pacific American Heritage Month (celebrated in May) is a good time to do so. The ADG is partnering with other corporate Asian network groups in the Baltimore community to hold a Leadership Panel Discussion: Asian Stereotypes & Embracing Diversity on May 13. Udyan Khanna, Vice President of Multicultural Marketing, will be on the panel as they discuss advancing your professional career. Additionally, Christina Kim, Product Manager, will be a panelist on the D&I Roundtable: Addressing Racial Inequities for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) sponsored by the National Association of Manufacturers on May 7. Finally, the ADG is collaborating with McCormick's Young Professionals EAG (McYP) on a bingo event to highlight Asian heritage during AAPI month.
"Asian Americans cannot go backward," said Yen. "We need to talk about our progress, share our accomplishments, and show the value we bring to communities, companies, and the world. In other words, we need to tell our stories. Practicing open-mindedness and treating all people with the same level of respect and dignity is key to ending prejudices and stereotypes. Seminars and courses on racism can just do so much - the most important influencer, the most powerful tool we have is our children. When we raise them to embrace differences and value all people, we will begin to build a world free of bigotry and hate."