May is Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, which spans many regions and cultures. At 33Across, we are privileged to have many employees who are a part of the AAPI diaspora. This year, I sat down with a few of those employees for an Inclusive Conversation; a series we created this year to spotlight minority voices in the workplace. During the discussion, we spoke about each panelist’s heritage, their individual experiences, barriers they may have faced in the tech industry, and perspectives on collective issues that the AAPI community faces.
The panel was moderated by Avalon Benoit – People & Culture Manager, and consisted of a cross-section of AAPI employees at 33Across:
Ann Liem – Yield Analyst
Jas Sidhu – Senior Director, Addressability Products
Saumya Dixit – Senior Software Engineer
Shyam Kuttikkad – Chief Technology Officer
Here are some snippets from our conversation:
What barriers, if any, have you faced as an AAPI individual?
A top barrier discussed was centered around obtaining a visa. It can be difficult to find a company that is willing to sponsor a work visa and the overall process can be strenuous. One panelist shared his experience of racism in the tech space during his time living in the U.K. However, once he moved to the U.S., he felt more accepted and did not experience the same types of prejudice in tech.
Is there a lot of academic pressure in the AAPI community?
Within the AAPI community, there can be a large amount of academic pressure and an expectation to pursue either a medical or engineering field in order to achieve success. Two panelists gave examples of passions they wanted to pursue prior to their chosen careers, one fashion and another pro sports, but their parents did not support those career paths.
Pressure from stereotypes also comes from outside of the AAPI community. One panelist shared that people have always expected her to be good at math and numbers simply because she is Asian.
How do you feel about people asking to learn more about your culture/how do you teach others about your culture?
In general, the group seemed open to questions about their culture, as long as the approach is respectful. Beyond taking a more traditional approach to expand one’s knowledge of AAPI history, panelists suggested other means to learn about their culture through movies, TV shows, music, and social media (scroll down to the bottom of this blog to find those resources!)
AAPI cultures span over 40 countries and there is so much diversity to recognize and celebrate. India, for example, came up in our discussion since it is a country that has been consistently stereotyped. In actuality, two people could hail from India, but depending on what region they are from, they could speak two different languages, have polar opposite traditions, etc.
“We have different cultures, different foods, we celebrate different things, et cetera. So even within the Indian diaspora, there is so much diversity. And now if you expand that on to the AAPI Community, there is so much more diversity..”
– Shyam Kuttikkad, Chief Technology Officer
I’m so honored to have these Inclusive Conversations in Tech, each time is so enlightening! I will leave you with two takeaways from the 33Across AAPI panel discussion. First, it seems the tech space has been and continues to be a welcoming and safe space for the AAPI community. I think that is worth celebrating. I encourage AAPI employees to continue to share their unique aspects and heritage and for co-workers/employers to celebrate them! Secondly, I have taken from this discussion a fervent desire as well as commitment to learn more about Asian & Pacific Islander history in the United States and to continue the journey to better understand the ethnic groups represented within the AAPI community.
Here are the group’s suggested AAPI resources/content:
AAPI Celebration Open to the Public & Resources for AAPI Individuals:
Want to Learn More? Check Out:
By: Avalon Benoit | People & Culture Manager at 33Across