Fostering a Culture of Empathy and Inclusion in the Workplace
May 23, 2023
Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, an observance celebrated each May, recognizes the historical and cultural contributions of individuals and groups of Asian and Pacific Islander descent in the U.S.
Here at Axon, we are a global public safety technology company with over 3,000 employees in 13 nations. As such, we foster togetherness by recognizing, honoring and celebrating those who add unique cultural experiences and perspectives to our workplace and our mission to protect life.
This month, we sat down with two leaders of our Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (APIA) affinity group to learn more about how they are leading celebrations this May.
Q. Tell us a little about APIA. What it is?
Charlie Xu: The Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (APIA for short) is Axon’s affinity group focused entirely on the API community. We aim to support our API-affiliated employees however we can, whether that’s through holding get-together events, sharing and promoting API culture and accomplishments, or educating the broader Axon community about API experiences and issues.
I decided to found APIA back in 2021 for two reasons. First, the rise in anti-AAPI sentiment and violence during the COVID-19 pandemic, and second, the critical need for a platform at Axon to enable community members to share their experiences and help educate people about our community.
Q: Describe the APIA affinity group’s main goals?
Charlie: Our mission can be structured along three pillars:
- Support the growth and well-being of Axon’s entire API community. In this pillar, we generally focus on fostering a community for our API employees to promote and celebrate their cultures and facilitate their personal and career development and growth.
- Provide an avenue for all Axon employees to learn about the whole API experience. This involves educating the broader Axon community about API experiences, cultures and issues, and providing a platform for API members to authentically share their perspectives and thoughts.
- Drive positive impact for the broader API community outside of Axon. Here, we strive to aid in recruiting more API community members to the Axon team and to serve as an advocate for the API community at large.
Q: Why are affinity groups like APIA so important?
Dennis Zhang: I think affinity groups allow employees of different backgrounds to feel more included and recognized in the workplace. For identifying members, affinity groups provide a safe space to share experiences and find representation; for non-identifying members, they provide a learning opportunity and a chance to connect with identifying members on a deeper level. For everyone, affinity groups foster a culture of empathy and inclusion in the workplace.
Also, I’ve enjoyed the events that APIA has brought to Axon, as I had previously longed for a space in which employees can share their experiences as identifying or non-identifying members of the AAPI community. I decided to join the APIA board to best help foster that sense of inclusion and community.
Q: What activities are you most excited to bring to Axon this month and throughout the year?
Charlie: We have quite a few activities planned for AAPI Heritage Month! We just recently had our Culinary Celebration, where participants get a chance to sample the wide variety of foods and cuisines that span the entire API region. As you can imagine, it’s always a big hit!
We’ve also been sharing out resources for employees to build awareness about the different cultures within the API umbrella and highlight historic AAPI moments and achievements. Finally, we’re planning to highlight certain API-related movies to cap off the month!
In terms of events later in the year, we’re gearing up for our Mid-Autumn Festival and Diwali, which are two big holidays for many groups within the API community. And of course, we’ll be continuing to hold various general events and activities aimed at supporting and celebrating our community throughout the year!
Dennis: I enjoy bringing holiday events to Axon, as it gives employees opportunities to celebrate their cultural holidays not typically observed in the US. However, being of Chinese heritage, I’m most familiar with the holidays of my own culture and am less knowledgeable about the many other holidays celebrated across the wide variety of AAPI cultures. I’m eager to learn more about these diverse traditions, so if there are any AAPI employees who would like to see a holiday recognized that Axon APIA has not typically done, please reach out and we would be happy to put an event together!
Axon Affinity Groups are for all employees, both identifying members and their allies. If you are an Axon employee interested in joining the APIA affinity group, please join the #axon_apia Slack channel. If you are reading this from outside the organization and are interested in learning more about Axon, visit us at Axon careers.
Charlie Xu is the Biometrics Product Manager within Axon’s TASER New Ventures team. His work helps reduce in-custody deaths through the use of biometric health monitoring. Charlie has been with Axon for over 2 years, and has worked as the leader of Axon’s APIA affinity group for 2 years.
Dennis Zhang is a Mechanical Engineer with Axon’s Manufacturing Automation team. His work helps reduce manufacturing costs, increase manufacturing capacity and improve product quality on TASER cartridge products. Dennis has been with Axon for 5 years, and has been a member of Axon’s APIA affinity group since 2022.