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Meeting in a Box: Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

Designed by Freepik

This Meeting in a Box tool is designed for distribution to all employees. You may use portions of it or all of it. Each section is available as a separate PDF; you can forward the entire document or link to it on DiversityInc Best Practices; or you can print it out for employees who do not have Internet access.

For May, which is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, we are giving you a valuable tool to share with all your employees as you continue their education in cultural competence. We are supplying a Timeline of legislation, which highlights events impacting Asian Americans and their achievements in the United States; Facts & Figures, which demonstrate Asian American advancement (and opportunities) in education and business; and our cultural-competence series “Things NOT to Say” focusing on Asian Americans. This information should be distributed to your entire workforce and also should be used by your Asian employee resource group both internally and externally as a year-round educational tool.

[CLICK HERE to download a PDF of the full Meeting in a Box, our diversity-management professional development and educational tool available only to Benchmarking customers and DiversityInc Best Practices subscribers.]


We recommend you start your employees’ cultural-competence lesson on Asian Americans by using this Timeline, which documents discrimination and oppression of different Asian groups in the United States as well as achievements. It’s important to note how recently Asians have been treated inequitably and how issues such as the Japanese internment camps are taught in schools today.

Discussion Questions for Employees

What similarities historically are there among different Asian groups immigrating to the United States? What differences?
Ask the employees why they think there have been so many issues limiting the immigration of Asians and/or limiting their rights once in this country. How do those historic examples of discrimination carry over into the workplace?

Why are “firsts” important to note? What other barrier breakers have you witnessed in your lifetime?
This is a personal discussion designed to help the employees note other barrier breakers historically. This discussion can be further explored after the Facts & Figures section below is discussed.



After discussion of the Timeline, the next step is to review available data and understand areas in which Asians have made significant progress in the United States but major opportunities remain.

The data we have chosen to present here represent information of relevance to corporate America, such as education (available labor pool), business ownership, and progress in gaining executive and management positions. Where applicable, national data are compared against DiversityInc Top 50 data to show what progress the leading D&I companies are making.

Discussion Questions for Employees

Who do you see as the leading Asian role models in your company?
Have a higher-level discussion on what it takes to become a senior executive at your company, the role of employee resource groups and mentoring in supporting this, and what employees see as valuable ways to increase the pipeline.

Do Asians — men and women — have different employee and management styles than those of other racial/ethnic groups?
Use this teachable moment to honestly discuss different styles, including confrontation/criticism, self-promotion/branding, and decision-making.



Our popular “Things NOT to Say” series includes interviews with three Asian American leaders about offensive phrases they’ve heard in the workplace and how best to respond to them to further cultural-competence education.

Discussion Questions for Employees

What other phrases have you heard addressed to Asians and others from underrepresented groups?
Discuss how these phrases and stereotypes impact office morale and productivity.

What role do you think the company should play when offensive comments occur?
Have the employees talk about under what circumstances they would report offensive comments and what they believe the company should do.

After today’s lesson, what would you do if you overheard a colleague make one of these comments?
Continue the discussion with each employee having a plan of action on how to address offensive language.


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