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We joined Databricks in early October of 2020, in the middle of the pandemic with no clear end in sight. Our remote onboarding began with a few emails, some icebreaker slides, Kahoots and the ubiquitous Zoom session. Our cohort was a diverse group consisting of new hires from at least four different departments in the company, and our only initial commonality seemed to be the new red badge and a slight competitive streak at trivia. We greeted each other and then went to our separate technical training sessions. The technical process was smooth but fully onboarding at a company also requires building relationships, and those take time.

We initially started contemplating an Asian Employee Resource Group in January to celebrate important cultural events and build community, especially for those starting remotely. Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) are voluntary, employee-led collectives designed to foster an inclusive workplace by creating a place for individuals from underrepresented backgrounds (and allies) to come together to discuss important issues and build connections. The Databricks Asian Employee Network (AEN) Employee Resource Group was officially launched on Lunar New Year 2021 with the goal of fostering a community of Bricksters who can learn from one another, advocate for each other and work together to advance awareness, inclusion, engagement and equitable policies; basically to help us all onboard a bit better.

During this time, some of us had been personally feeling the impact of the increasing anti-Asian sentiment and violence. The pandemic had amplified and brought this hateful rhetoric to the forefront. Our fledgling ERG became a safe space where we could help each other process these events, including sharing our collective fear and frustration, and also banding together to take action.

Since our group’s inception, we’ve helped organize two company-wide fundraisers to support the #StopAAPIHate movement, as well as Covid-19 relief efforts in India. Building on this incredible momentum,  in May, we celebrated Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage month with virtual events and programs that helped highlight historic achievements and contributions of the AAPI community across the globe. Here are some of our favorite moments:

Asian Employee Network Block Party
We were excited to host our virtual Block Party to create a fun and interactive space with themed rooms for everyone to develop more meaningful connections. We shared recipes in the pot luck room,  created a playlist together in the music room and chatted about Asian literature in the “Lit Corner!”

Snapshot from the Asian Employee Network Block Party virtual event
Snapshot from the Asian Employee Network Block Party virtual event

“The In-Betweens” Keynote with Jeff Chang 
We also hosted Jeff Chang, award-winning author, American historian and Vice President at Race Forward for an intimate fireside chat on the “in-between” status that the AAPI community faces in the 21st century. This powerful talk centered on building solidarity and discussed how important it is for us to address the long history of violence against Asian Americans in order to truly achieve racial justice for all.

Jeff Chang

Reflecting on our shared history 
This month we thought it was important to take time to learn more about the history of Asian Americans and hear the diverse experiences and stories from these Asian and Pacific Islander communities. To help facilitate this collective reflection, we organized movie screenings and discussions throughout the month in addition to recommending books by Asian and Pacific Islander authors. Our team decided to feature the first episode of the PBS film series, Asian Americans, as well as the Oscar-nominated film, Minari. These powerful stories showcased the incredible role Asian Americans have had in shaping our history.

We are so proud of the Asian Employee Network and the supportive community we have been able to build in just a few months. Our team is excited to continue growing and having an even bigger positive impact in the years to come!

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