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Below is an article originally written by Tenzin Kunsal, Nivedita Mittal, Gabe Ramos, Julie Truong, and Wing Yung at PowerToFly Partner Yelp, and published on October 28, 2019. Go to Yelp's page on PowerToFly to see their open positions and learn more.
During Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, ColorCoded (a Yelp employee resource group) hosted a panel discussion called "Beyond Labels: Stories of Asian Pacific Islanders (API)* at Yelp."
We heard stories from five API Yelpers about their cultural backgrounds, identities, and thoughts on what it means to be an API in today's world. Their stories helped us understand that identity is both multilayered and contextual, and that individuality goes beyond labels.
Read more from their unique perspectives below.
Tenzin Kunsal, Events + Partnerships, Engineering Recruiting
From a young age, I knew the concept of "home" was complicated. Like many refugees, my family called multiple countries home. My grandparents left my first home, Tibet, in the 1960s, after it was taken over by China. My second home, India, is where I was born and where I grew up, in a Tibetan refugee community. I was not automatically granted Indian citizenship, so for the first few years of my life, I was state-less, born without a country. That was until 1996, when Minneapolis became my third home. Soon after, I became an American citizen and finally officially "belonged" to a country. Growing up, this was all very confusing. I never felt like I fully fit in anywhere. It wasn't until college that I started to accept the multifacetedness of my identity and that it's okay to call multiple places "home."
Nivedita Mittal, Software Engineer, Reader Experience
I moved to the U.S. four years ago to get my Master's in Computer Science. Since then, it's been a journey of self-discovery. When I moved from Mumbai to Boston, I always said "I'm from Mumbai, India." Then, after moving to San Francisco, it became "I'm from Boston." Something that has always stuck with my identity is how my immigration status defined whether I "belonged." Whether it's finding a job that sponsors your H-1B visa, or filling out your green card, defining who you are and whether you belong in the first place is an ongoing insecurity. It didn't help that during grad school, every conversation I had with other international students revolved around my visa situation. The same applied to recruiting conversations with companies—I would always get questions like, "Did you get your H-1B yet? Did they file your green card already?" Once this is all said and done, I wonder if I'll finally find that sense of belonging, or whether it'll still be a conscious thought in my head to remind people that I belong here.
Gabe Ramos, Director, CorpEng
I identify as Filipino American, a person of color, and a Hapa. "Hapa" is a Hawaiian word that's used to describe people who are part Asian and part Caucasian. Growing up in the Bay Area, I bounced around schools that had different ethnic make-ups. People often can't tell what race I am. When I was in a predominantly Black and Latino school, classmates teased me for being "white." When I was in a mostly white Palo Alto public school, classmates teased me for being "Japanese" because they didn't know what race I was. I felt like I was between worlds because I didn't pass for white yet often didn't feel Filipino enough. Learning about different racial identities in college was pivotal for me. I have a liberal arts background, and my education really helped me learn about other Asian Americans' experiences, the history of racial violence in the U.S., and anti-miscegenation laws. This helped me gain more of a sense of shared history. Most importantly, this empowered me to feel more ownership over my opinions of my own racial and cultural identity.
Julie Truong, Software Engineer, Restaurant Plan
From my last name, you may assume that I'm Vietnamese; I'm actually Chinese. My family immigrated from China to Vietnam (and later to the U.S.), and in order to blend in, my paternal grandfather changed our last name. My family is a mix of Chinese and Vietnamese cultures. At any given family gathering, you can hear English, Cantonese, and Vietnamese—all within the span of a couple minutes. I grew up in a primarily Latinx/Black/Samoan/Fillipino neighborhood in the East Bay. When I was younger, I had an idea of what being a "cool Asian" entailed, and Chinese people weren't necessarily portrayed in this light. So I actually wished I were Fillipino, just like the cool kids in school. Now, as an adult living in the Bay Area, I feel I'm actually quite privileged. There's a large Asian American population here, and I don't have to think about my cultural identity very often. Interestingly, I find I have to think more about my gender and sexual orientation and how these parts of my identity show up in my personal and professional life.
Wing Yung, Vice President, Engineering
I grew up near Arcadia, California, in a community with many other Asian Americans. Most of my classmates in public school were like me—our parents immigrated here, and we were born here. I can speak three dialects of Chinese (poorly): Mandarin (which I learned through lessons), Cantonese (which my parents speak at home because they grew up in Hong Kong), and Wenzhounese (my grandparents' dialect). Throughout college I became more aware of my Asian identity, but didn't seek out opportunities to explore it. Early on in my career at IBM, one of my managers sent me to an Asian leadership development program. In retrospect, it was one of the first times I became aware that leadership comes in many forms. I'm very much aware of the fact that I'm often the only (or one of the few) Asians in leadership settings. It's important to me to be a role model for others so that they know there are paths to these roles.
What ties all of these stories together is a sense of belonging that impelled us to redefine our identities on our own terms. Finding the right communities and support groups was critical for our journeys of self-discovery. The process of preparing for this panel was in itself extremely empowering, as it allowed us to dig deeper and reflect on what makes us who we are. Opportunities like these provide a platform to learn about others' experiences and to realize how much representation influences our lives. It's important to remind ourselves that sharing these stories makes us stronger and is an important part of cultivating community.
Want to be a part of the dialogue? Here are a few steps you can take right now!
- Join a resource group/meetup/support group that focuses on diversity and inclusion. We have employee resource groups here at Yelp, including Colorcoded, Diverseburst, and Awesome Women in Engineering (AWE).
- For a more personal conversation, grab coffee with someone who identifies as an API to hear more about their journey.
*In the context of this conversation, API stands for Asian Pacific Islanders—people with origins in Asia or the Pacific Islands.
Engineering at Yelp
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Coming out is associated with the LGBT+ community and refers to a moment when each of us takes a stand and proclaims who we are, without "covering." (The term covering is used here to describe hiding elements of one's self or identity or expression.) Some of our employees took a moment to reflect on what Coming Out Day means to them and how living authentically has impacted their lives.
Christopher Mostello, Consultant, Experience Design
There are many opinions when acknowledging Coming Out Day as a nationally recognized holiday (observed on October 11). Some believe that one shouldn't have to "come out" and that it reinforces a heteronormative mentality. Now, I see that point of view and understand it. However, Coming Out Day still has relevance to so many around the world. Coming out doesn't have to be depicted solely by publicly proclaiming who you are, but also by the self-acceptance of one's true self. We're still living in a time where there's prolific rhetoric perpetuating the exact opposite of that. For me, and living in my own authenticity, I have the power to be visible for others and inspire others. That journey's going to look different for every person. But the power of living authentically can be shared by every single human, regardless of orientation, identity or any other element that makes us who we are.
Maddie Crater, Consultant, Software Engineering
There was a long time where I felt I had to hide my true self and wear a mask. It's one thing for others to not see you for who you are, but the most difficult part was having to even hide it from myself. Coming out at work was difficult for me (both mentally and, eventually, technically) but looking back now, as my authentic self, makes me realize that it's worth it 100 times over. Not only am I able to go into the office and be seen and live as my true self, but I'm also visible for others to see that they can do it too. Coming out means more than just coming out to the world; it starts with truly coming out to yourself. Realizing "alright, we're really doing this" and starting to accept yourself. That's what Coming Out Day means for me. To me it's not necessarily about publicly announcing anything; it's a reminder that there's support and recognition, even abstract, for you to take that next step, or even the first step, of expressing who you really are and being proud of it. Not just showing the world because you're tired of hiding, but because there are so many of us out here ready to cheer for and support you.
Ben Trappe, UK CTO for Comms, Media & Technology
Avanade is the first company I've worked at where I feel able to be out in the workplace. I took what I felt was a fairly matter of fact way of announcing it –in the Avanade monthly newsletter &ndash but even then, it was hugely daunting. The support I received after was amazing and gave me a huge sense of belonging and comfort in being able to be myself. That said, even then it took years before I would be proactive in telling people outside the UK. Different cultural attitudes, even today, can make it a tough call whether you can be 100% certain someone won't judge you. It is something many who identify at LGBTQ+ have to deal with on a day-to-day basis.
Mirna Rodríguez, UX Architect, Experience Design
When I lived in Mexico, I learned about Avanade and its culture and support for the LGBT+ community. I remember watching a video and crying a little, because I couldn't believe this kind of workplace existed. And eventually I became part of it. I was never questioned about anything; no gossiping about who I loved, and I could freely talk about it to my teammates. When HR asked me to be a Prism champion I didn't hesitate, it was time to give back, and so I am. I can be fully me, feeling safe and welcomed at my workplace, and for that I am grateful.
Sarah Rench, Director of AI and Industry Solutions
I look forward to the day when myself, or others, don't have to come out or need specific labels. Personally, coming out hasn't always been a fun or easy experience. Part of being a leader in Avanade involves ensuring that my colleagues, clients and anyone I meet feels comfortable to be themselves. Or even open, if they wish, about their sexual orientation but not be defined by it. Certainly, we are all multifaceted and can all face intersectionality, or different types of oppression, whether based on race, gender, age, sexual orientation, disability. But it helps to acknowledge this intersectionality and how to address and change it. I hope by openly discussing coming out and intersectionality we can be the best versions of ourselves and help others to be.
Charles Dallimore, Senior Legal Counsel - Europe
Up to the age of 18 I was in the closet. I truly believed that I was the only gay person and was terrified that someone was going to find me out. Although I thought that most of my family and friends would probably accept me, I really wasn't sure and the thought of coming out to them filled me with dread. I expected it to be difficult. For a good chunk of my teens, I withdrew from people and kept myself to myself, being careful of how much of myself I let show. Coming Out Day means so much to me now. It is great to see LGBT people standing proudly and visibly. What means even more to me is the number of allies I see wearing rainbow lanyards. If the law and society were different, back then I wouldn't have felt so alone, and I wouldn't have been so scared of coming out.
Coming out isn't something you do once, either. I came out to myself when I was 18, then to a friend and then to my family. In fact, every time I meet someone new there's the uncertainty over whether they are going to change once they know this insignificant detail about me. So, thank you to everyone who is an ally to my community. If I could ask for one more thing, it would be for those of you who have children to please tell them that their sexuality, gender identity or expression doesn't change your love for them. Tell them that you are on their team and will always be there for them. Tell them when they're young. Tell them when they're a teen. Tell them often to be sure they've heard you.
It is only recently I came out at work. My fervent desire is for all people, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, to feel comfortable being out at work and able to be their authentic selves. I don't want people to have to make the choices I have had to make, deciding what the risks are to my career that coming out at work may pose, knowing that at a senior level being visible can and does still affect recruitment and promotional career prospects.
LGBT+ is an abbreviation that refers to people with diverse sexual orientation, sex or gender identity. They include lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people, and other sexuality, sex and gender-diverse people, regardless of their term of self-identification. The abbreviation can vary and can include additional letters, such as I (intersex) and Q (queer/questioning) or even appear in a different order (e.g., GLBTI).
Below is an article originally written by Mistral Myers, Keyword contributor at PowerToFly Partner Google, and published on October 11, 2019. Go to Google's page on PowerToFly to see their open positions and learn more.
Until I started working at Google in 2014, I had never been out at work.
Now, less than five years later, everything is different: I'm an active volunteer leader in Google's LGBTQ+ Employee Resource Group—a Googler-run, company-supported organization that works to provide an inclusive workplace for LGBTQ+ employees, and partners closely with our Trans Employee Resource Group, which represents our transgender, gender non-conforming, and non-binary colleagues. As part of my role, I've had the chance to engage LGBTQ+ Googlers across our global offices, speak publicly about being LGBTQ+ in the workplace and have even been able to share my perspectives and experiences directly with Google leadership.
At this point, I can barely remember what it felt like to not be a visible, openly LGBTQ+ person at work. So it's hard to imagine that before joining Google, I felt I couldn't come out at the office at all.
As we celebrate National Coming Out Day and reflect on all of the progress we've made as a community, I am determined to remember this simple but crucial reality: Openness matters. Community matters. Being able to be out at work matters.
Googlers create signs supporting the LGBTQ+ community for the 2017 New York City Pride March.
Prior to joining Google, I'd spent time in a variety of industries, always under the careful, polite policy of evasion when it came to questions about my personal life. Perhaps I didn't need to be so secretive. I worked with wonderful, kind people, and though there were no explicit shows of support for LGBTQ+ issues from my workplace, I'm sure most of my colleagues and managers wouldn't have taken issue with my identity.
Still, for many LGBTQ+ folks, the fear of prejudice can nag at you, and cause you to hesitate even around the most well-meaning of coworkers. Some assume that with the ushering in of marriage equality here in the U.S., other kinds of inequality have disappeared and the movement is complete. But as many LGBTQ+-identifying people will tell you, critical challenges still remain, and it takes a conscious and dedicated effort to counteract their effects.
Growing up in New Mexico, I got an early introduction to some of the challenges that LGBTQ+ people still so often face: harassment, discrimination, violence. The understanding that being LGBTQ+ was unsafe was imprinted on me almost immediately, and that fear left a lasting mark.
In each new city, from college to a job to graduate school to another job, I was reminded (often in not-so-subtle ways) that no matter what might change in the law or in popular culture, I should always be wary, always be careful.
So I never took the chance.
In so many important ways, restraining from bringing my full self to work hurt my ability to be a good employee. Constantly worrying about slipping up and revealing that I had a girlfriend rather than a boyfriend prevented me from feeling fully integrated. It became an obstacle to forming the kinds of professional relationships that help company culture feel cohesive and supportive.
Now, I realize how much I was missing. Today, I'm part of a workplace with visible LGBTQ+ leaders, explicit shows of support for LGBTQ+ cultural moments and celebrations and broad encouragement to use what makes me different to create an environment of inclusion for my fellow Googlers. This journey has made me realize how much all workplaces can benefit from supporting their employees' differences, just as much as they celebrate their collective unity.
I'm proud. I hope you are, too.
It is time! We are happy to announce the recipients of the 2019 Diversity Scholarship!
We're overwhelmed by the incredible applications we received after announcing the scholarship back in March. We were blown away by the thoughtfulness, experiences, achievements, and creativity of the applicants.
There were many well-deserving individuals, which made the selection process especially difficult for us. In the end, we did have to choose five winners and five runner-ups. The individuals below exemplify hard work, perseverance, and potential to make technology a more diverse and inclusive place.
Scholarship winners receive $5,000 towards their education, and an expenses-paid trip to the Salesforce Tower in San Francisco for a day of learning, mentorship, and networking.
(Left to right)
- Alejandra M. Castillo
- Andre Hodges
- Konce Quispe
- Maria Vivanco
- NaKia Whitby
Runner-ups receive $1,000 towards their education, and an expenses-paid trip to the Salesforce Tower in San Francisco for a day of learning, mentorship, and networking.
(Left to right)
- Amulya Balakrishnan
- Gabrielle Stillman
- Justin Tinker
- Ping Liu
- Sofia Ongele (picture missing)