Conversations With APCO’s North America ERGs
As we celebrate diversity and inclusion this month, we heard from members of each of APCO’s Employee Resource Groups to better understand the experiences and challenges community members are facing inside and outside of the workplace.
Asian and Pacific Islander Employee Resource Group
The Asian and Pacific Islander Employee Resource Group (AAPI ERG) aims to create a collaborative network of support, understanding and validation for those with heritage from countries in the Asia Pacific region and allies interested in learning more about and advocating for the community. Along with a safe space to share stories and cultural experiences, this group works to support the advancement, talent recruitment, retention and professional development of our API community at APCO. Above all, we aim to recognize and appreciate the diversity within the AAPI experience, which consists of more than 50 ethnic groups with different cultures and histories in the US.
In recent years, pandemic-fueled racism has caused a significant uptick in anti-Asian hate crimes, which increased by 339% last year compared to 2020. As we approach AAPI Heritage month in May, we hope to promote awareness around #StopAsianHate and facilitate discussions around self-defense, bystander intervention, mental health resources and community activism.
BAAM Employee Resource Group
The Black African Ancestry Movement is an ERG for all employees of the African diaspora, including those of African American, Caribbean, and mixed-race background. BAAM seeks to attract, retain, develop and support employees at APCO while advancing a diverse and inclusive work environment.
The group has a key goal to create a space for employees with a shared identity to foster learning and development, create networking opportunities and impact our surrounding communities through mentoring opportunities that help members grow within the company. With a focus on equity and justice in the workplace, BAAM works to support the retention of Black/African employees and build community through virtual social events, networking opportunities, and wellness. Additionally, the group aims to lift up Black and African voices by hosting an annual Black History Month and other events to showcase the accomplishments of Blacks/Africans.
LatinAPCO Employee Resource Group
The LatinAPCO ERG closely follows issues of interest to the Hispanic and Latino communities in the U.S. Yes, every now and then we talk about pop culture and how much we love the film Encanto, but we are driven by thoughtful efforts to make our community feel more included, represented and welcomed at APCO. Outside of our efforts to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month and highlight opportunities for our colleagues to grow as leaders in our community, we work to create a welcoming and supportive network within our company. Part of this effort includes our support of APCO’s Identity Initiative, which allows colleagues at APCO to self-identify by choosing their preferred names and last names as well as pronouns in their email signature.
In Hispanic and Latin culture, we inherit both our parents’ last names, as a beautiful way to honor our heritage. Thus, APCO’s Identity Initiative carries a special meaning, as some of us who migrated to the U.S. lost a last name and part of our identity in the process. As a community that has historically been reduced to stereotypes and misconceptions, being able to share our two last names in our interactions at work, helps solidify our identity. For some of us, having two last names displayed in written communications allows us to remind everyone of our history, and show pride for who we are and where we come from.
LGBTQ+ Employee Resource Group
No doubt, it is a challenging time for the LGBTQ+ population in the United States. We now represent at least 7.1% of the population and we see signals of a general acceptance and embrace of who we are. We are mothers, fathers, grandparents, teachers, police officers, students, Black, Asian, Latino, Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, entrepreneurs and innovators, sons, daughters, leaders and creators. We are us all. Young LGBTQ+ people can see themselves represented more accurately and without age-old stereotypes in entertainment and literature, and to a limited extent, in government and business, where there is still work to be done. What’s especially troubling today is the attempts through legislation—at a local and state level—to erase us, to deny us our basic rights to participate fully and have our health needs meets. We are not protected as equal on a federal level yet, with the Equality Act bill stalled in the U.S. Senate. The issues affecting LGBTQ people are not political or policy-oriented. They are human issues—which have an impact on our safety, inclusion and feeling of belonging.
Parent Employee Resource Group
The Parents’ ERG was established to create a space for parents to build community and share resources, organize around workplace issues and advise on policy, and support one another through events and education. Over the last couple years at APCO, we’ve published the Parents’ Guide (Resources for Parents at APCO) and supported the Encore program as it’s been piloted in its inaugural year.
During the last few years of the pandemic, we’ve seen the working landscape dramatically shift for parents. Parents are juggling more than they’ve ever had before as they’ve navigated school and daycare closures, virtual school and playdates, and complex health decisions all while maintaining their workload. Sometimes it’s not about showing up as the best you can be—but showing up as who you are. We hope, if you’re a parent or want to be more active in supporting parents, you join our growing community at APCO.
Women’s Leadership Group
The Women’s Leadership Group (WLG) ERG provides resources, support and mentorship for women of any identification at APCO. APCO prides itself on being majority woman-owned, and in that tradition, our group is committed to helping all women at APCO show up authentically, share and learn from differing perspectives and collaborate to continually heighten the experience of women in our workplace. While the focus of this group is to empower women the workplace, the APCO WLG and encourages and welcomes the engagement of all genders. We work to support and advance a culture where all employees empower one another, and where women can lean into their careers with confidence and reach their maximum potential.
Recently, we’ve had the opportunity to spotlight our incredible members through panels and virtual happy hours, and partner with HR to support the continual development of APCO’s North America hiring processes to eliminate bias from talent selection. While Women’s History Month has been a recent focus, we also leverage our 100+ person membership to spotlight other ERGs, as there are many cases of intersectionality among our members throughout the year.