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Asians@Stantec Employee Resource Group – A voice for Inclusion & Diversity

April 01, 2021

In 2019, the Asians@Stantec ERG was created to offer support and mentorship to its members

In employee resource groups (ERG) at Stantec, employees explore development opportunities and improve skills relevant to their business goals. Asians@Stantec is our first heritage-based ERG in Canada. While raising awareness of Asian traditions and values, this ERG is grounded on four pillars—cultural education, empowerment and development, inclusion and wellness in the workplace, and community service and outreach.

Asians@Stantec aims to boost employee engagement and satisfaction by fostering an environment of authenticity and acceptance. “Employees who feel understood and belong to a community where they can be their true selves tend to be happier and more engaged in the workplace,” explains Mila Philipzig, senior project manager with our Integrated Business Applications team and one of the ERG’s founding committee members.

Through cultural events that celebrate Asian traditions, Asians@Stantec hopes to educate about values and beliefs that drive workplace behaviours. “I want employees of Asian heritage to feel confident, for example, about asking for time off during Chinese New Year or Diwali,” Mila explains, “and I want our leadership to understand the importance of these celebrations.” In addition, the group is invested in the career growth of its members. “Employees who come from a different business culture might lack assertiveness in the workplace. As a result, they might be overlooked for promotion,” says Mila.

Diwali celebrations 2020. Photo taken before COVID-19.

How it started

The Asians@Stantec ERG grew out of a group of Filipinos setting out to celebrate the inaugural Filipino Heritage Month in June 2019. The idea to unite employees of Asian origin and share their rich cultures started to gain traction as employees in our Edmonton, Canada office were building a strong community.

A newsletter was launched in January 2020 which helped promote a lineup of engaging events to help kick off last year with the Chinese New Year celebration, which the ERG was able to celebrate at the Stantec Tower in Edmonton.

Growing amidst pandemic challenges

With the start of the pandemic, the ERG faced the challenge of going virtual. In June, monthly virtual meetings were introduced to keep the community close, have trivia contests, and let employees talk about their work, family, concerns about the spreading virus, and rising racism against the Asian communities. In October, they organized a Mental Health Awareness virtual session for the BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) community to take part in. Instead of Christmas, the ERG hosted an online winter year end celebration as the attendees observe various festivals and practice diverse faith.

Unlike the 2020 Chinese New Year, the 2021 celebration had to be virtual. In February, Asians@Stantec gathered online to watch a video that was created by employees from the Edmonton, Shanghai, and Taiwan offices. Now, the ERG is preparing for informational webinars in May when Asian Heritage Month takes place in Canada as well as Asian and Pacific Islander Month in the US. Then, employees of Philippine heritage from Australia, New Zealand, US, Canada, and the Middle East will be participating in events to celebrate Philippine Heritage Month in June.

Chinese New Year 2020, Edmonton, Alberta. Photo taken before COVID-19.

With the rise of anti-Asian hate crimes, Stantec is committed to making a difference through ongoing solidarity with our BIPOC communities and we are continuously working to address racism and social inequity—we all share the responsibility to eliminate racism. The Asians@Stantec ERG is a safe place for employees to not only be themselves and talk about challenges and experiences with each other but also to celebrate the history, culture, and importance of Asian heritage.

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