May is Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, a time to celebrate the achievements, influence, and contributions of Asian and Pacific Islander Americans. It’s also an important time to highlight the efforts of the Asian Professionals Inclusion Network at Schwab (APINS) Employee Resource Group (ERG), where members and leaders work to bring awareness to AAPI voices and provide an inclusive community for participants. Keep reading to hear from APINS National co-Chairs Michelle H. and Yang W. as they share their thoughts about the month and the importance of diversity and inclusion.
Inclusivity and Different Perspectives are Key Ingredients to Schwab’s Success
Michelle H., one of the national co-chairs of Schwab’s Asian Professionals Inclusion Network at Schwab (APINS) Employee Resource Group, has been with Schwab for over 23 years. In that time, she helped launch the Austin, TX chapter of APINS before assuming the role of National co-Chair as the ERG underwent a change in leadership.
“We have a large Asian population in Austin, and I thought, ‘How is it that we don’t have our own chapter?’ Michelle says. “It was through my involvement in APINS that I became more aware of AAPI Heritage Month, which has been an opportunity to reflect on AAPI culture as a whole as well as my personal story.”
“My father is from China and my mother immigrated from Chile (Michelle is also a member of the Schwab Organization of Latinx ERG), so growing up I always felt different,” Michelle says. “I lived in predominantly white neighborhoods, and sometimes wanted to look like the other kids, with their blue eyes and blond hair … Now, I’m so appreciative of my heritage and my journey of embracing who I am, and helping others do the same; that inclusivity is important to me because I know what not being included feels like.”
Michelle says that her APINS leadership role has allowed her professional experience and personal history to inform the ways she helps teammates and business partners feel included and represented. For her, the leadership role has provided a path to creating wider understanding and recognition of AAPI individuals.
“One of the stereotypes of Asians is that we really don’t want to rock the boat, or that we’re very compliant,” she says. “I’ve learned that speaking up is a good thing! To be a leader, you need to speak up, you need to bring ideas – and better yet, solutions – to the table.”
To her point about the importance of voicing one’s unique ideas and solutions, Michelle adds that doing so helps to create a “model that encourages others to offer up their own unique perspectives and ideas, which makes us such a successful firm as a whole.”
How to Add Value to an ERG: ‘Just Get Involved!’
Yang W., the other current Co-Chair of Schwab’s Asian Professionals Inclusion Network at Schwab (APINS) Employee Resource Group (ERG), also joins us to provide his perspectives on AAPI Month and how being involved with APINS has directly influenced his professional trajectory at Schwab. In Yang’s view, “where I am in the Active Trader Branch now, as well as a large portion of the professional network I’ve developed, I kind of owe it all to APINS.”
Yang has been a Schwabbie in the Chicago office for the past 10 years, where he’s worked in across engaging internal and external facing roles before shifting gears to join our Branch network as a Financial Consultant with the Active Trader Branch. As a Schwabbie dedicated to championing the success of fellow employees and clients alike, he previously served as the local co-Chair for the Chicago APINS chapter before transitioning to the National co-Chair alongside Michelle.
Touching on how his involvement in the APINS ERG has had the dual benefit of helping him progress in his career, Yang explains that “Throughout my career, I was actively seeking a Branch role. When serving as the co-Chair of the Chicago chapter of APINS I met Hari N., Manager of the Chicago Active Trader Branch. He discovered my unique skill set and found out that we both shared a passion for increasing Asian American representation at the Branch level, especially in parts of the country where there’s a significant Asian client population but not a lot of Asian client-facing employees at Schwab.” It was this connection Yang made that helped him progress into his current role, where he uses his passion for service and life experience to form deeper connections with clients and better understand their goals.
Yang also details how being a part of APINS is a meaningful way to gain more understanding about the firm, associated organizations, and the many diverse people that make up our One Schwab community.
“Being a part of an ERG is a great career networking opportunity, but it’s also a chance to expand your horizons and grow personally,” he says. “Everybody has a story to tell, and for some people sharing is a hurdle. I’ve found APINS to be a space where people can be comfortable doing it.”
Yang says that the past couple of years have been tough on ERGs in general, with people working remotely and spread out across the country. But he hopes more people – no matter who or where they are – take the opportunity to see what APINS is about.
“Allies seem very curious, but also a little intimidated, when considering joining an ERG that might not align with their heritage or identity – but that curiosity is enough!” says Yang. “You don’t have to know anything ahead of time, just bring a simple willingness to learn and have an open mind.”
“I’m passionate about promoting Asian culture and inclusion, and I’m excited about sharing it with more people outside our community,” Yang explains. “We’re not an exclusive club – just showing up and sharing your story would go a long way. Just get involved!”