My name is Peter Yo. I was born and raised in California but moved to South Korea, where I lived for 10 years while attending an international school.
My experience of growing up multiculturally contributed to feeling like I did not belong, fit in or that I would ever be fully accepted. I was either “too American” or “too Korean,” as if I had to pick one or the other. It didn’t feel like there was enough space to feel like I could just be myself.
Celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) month gives us an opportunity to embrace our collective stories and honor the rich histories that unite us in compassion and understanding amidst lineages and cultures that span millennia.
I now live in Los Angeles and work as a vice president for Robert Half, a company that shares in the celebration, traditions and achievements of the AAPI diaspora, a place where I feel like I am welcome and belong.
Helping to elevate AAPI voices
Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, held annually in May, is a time to recognize and celebrate the accomplishments, contributions and histories of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community. This year, Robert Half is honoring the diversity of Asian cultures and elevating AAPI voices with help from the leaders of Asian Professionals for Excellence (APEX), an Employee Network Group (ENG) at the company. They are curating experiences that amplify Pan-Asian perspectives and uplift our workplace and the communities we serve, including:
- Raising funds for the National Asian American Pacific Islander Mental Health Association (NAAPIMHA), a nonprofit committed to promoting the mental health and well-being of the AAPI communities
- Providing AAPI restaurant recommendations and an employee cookbook collection curated with Pan-Asian recipes
- Participating in an allyship event with Ascend, the largest Pan-Asian business professional membership organization in North America
- Teaching a virtual bhangra dance and tai chi lesson
“How we support the Asian American and Pacific Islander community is critical,” says Robert Half’s Vice President of Experience and Inclusion, Alf Mendez. “We continue to focus on ensuring our employees feel heard and supported. APEX and its allies host monthly meetings, a biweekly ‘ConversAsians’ series and recently led a companywide fundraising event for Ukrainian relief efforts. Their work spans beyond the month of May and provides dialogue and learning opportunities to our workforce all year long.”
APEX member Will Evangelista says, “As the son of a Filipino diplomat, I was born in the Philippines but raised multiculturally across the globe. Being a 1.5 generation immigrant who didn’t become a United States citizen until later in life, I’ve always felt a conflicting dichotomy like I could belong anywhere while simultaneously often feeling out of place.”
He adds, “The Philippines itself is a blend of many cultures – Southeast Asia, Japan, China and India, a collective of diverse cultures also reflective of the AAPI diaspora. Celebrating AAPI Heritage Month invites us to illuminate shared experiences, challenges and struggles for identity and equity faced by the AAPI community as we pause, celebrate who we are and embrace our power.”
Fellow APEX member Julia Thielbar celebrates her favorite Hawaiian commemoration: “May Day is ‘lei day,’ on May 1. This tradition embraces our heritage through celebration and parades, flowered leis, Haku making and flowers behind our ears to honor the ‘aloha spirit,’” she says.
A key component of Robert Half’s diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts is supporting workforce development and educational opportunities to facilitate change in the AAPI community. This month and beyond, employees are volunteering or donating to organizations, including Ascend, Asian & Pacific Islander American (APIA) Scholars and the Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO). Dovetailed with support and encouragement, Robert Half also provides monetary matching to fundraising efforts.
“I’m proud to be Chinese American and work for a company that honors and values all backgrounds, perspectives and heritages. Celebrating this month at Robert Half is about reflecting on the contributions of Asian Americans, recognizing the accomplishments of trailblazing AAPIs, and remaining hopeful for the future of the AAPI community,” says APEX member Justina Yoo.
Advancing DEI in the workplace — and beyond
Robert Half upholds a powerful commitment to:
- Advance DEI in the workplace
- Cultivate strategic alliances that drive engagement with diverse professionals
- Support universal human rights
- Participate actively in the communities where we live and do business
- Foster the promotion, growth and development of diverse suppliers
- Be a socially and environmentally responsible corporate citizen
If you’re interested in working for a company that values DEI, we’d love to have you join our team! Robert Half is an Equal Opportunity Employer M/F/Disability/Veterans. You can view our current job openings here.