ERG Spotlight - Eve Cheng and Caleb Lee

AANHPI ERG leaders reflect on first year

What is the mission/purpose of the Asian-American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) ERG?

Eve Cheng, AANHPI ERG president: The AANHPI ERG meets Maximus’ business values by focusing on employee development and promoting inclusivity within the organization. We empower our members by providing resources to achieve professional growth. We offer our members a platform for discourse, where they can share their stories, network with others across Maximus, and feel supported. I want to promote the message that for anyone raised in bi-cultural households that neither has to be mutually exclusive. We can be equally proud of both sides of our cultural identities.

For me personally, the ERG encourages a growth mindset to accept other cultures and be receptive and open to learning. I think we stand out because we are an umbrella for so many different cultures across Asia, Hawaii, and the Pacific Islands. Culturally, we're so diverse, but we're all under this umbrella. I grew up in the United Kingdom and have lived in many different countries. Often, there is misconception that we're all so different, but we’re not – we have many shared experiences also. We welcome allies, so I don't want people to assume that you have to be fall into the AANHPI umbrella because we're all learning at the same time. There are no prerequisites for membership, just come with an open heart to learn and embrace something new.

Caleb Lee, AANHPI ERG vice president: Whenever I look at all the groups within AANHPI, there is such a variety of cultures represented. Unless you grew up in those cultures or knew someone from those groups, people don't have a chance to see other people's lifestyles and traditions.

For some of us, especially those who moved to America from another country, we’ve joined this melting pot where you may have to integrate, and sometimes we lose parts of our culture. I feel like this is also an opportunity to embrace your culture and kind of share it with everyone else and teach others what your culture is about. The more people know about other cultures, the more accepting they are with them.

We get to know everyone better on a personal level, and it also helps professionally because the world is truly changing. There’s more inclusivity – more understanding.

Why is the ERG important for Maximus?

Cheng: I think ERGs are important, but especially because Maximus is a global organization. For any employee who’s aspiring for professional growth, we should also have that global mindset. There are more than 31,000 employees all over the U.S. at Maximus and they come from different cities and different places. The ERG is a great platform for us just to share our diversity and for people just to come and learn. We provide a lot of resources in our ERG on local events, articles on professional or continuing education, and we post fun facts. We share empowerment quotes, so all of those elements support a growth mindset. I don’t think you can accomplish professional growth without growing yourself personally – the two are kind of intertwined.

Lee: I think for remote workers especially, ERGs provide a sense of belonging. In the first elementary school that I went to, I can’t remember having another Asian classmate. A company can be the same way. The ERG gives you a chance to connect with other people that share your culture or maybe share similar experiences. It's a safe space for people in a company because regardless of where you live, you can join an ERG and connect with others. This sense of belonging also ties into employee happiness and helps with employee engagement.

What initiatives are you most proud of so far?

Cheng: I took over as President of AANHPI ERG in November 2022, and in that same month   we collaborated with the other ERGs and took turns to host each week for Career Development Month. AANHPI ERG presented on the topics of branding yourself, social media, and recruiter tips. The event was very well-received by our members and was one of our highest turnouts.

Recently, we secured a full ERG team. Our committee now represents Philippines, Korea, China, Taiwan, India, Sri Lanka, Hawaii, and of course, the U.S. We are a true reflection of diversity and that's reflected in the committee. Having representation helps ensure employees’ voices are heard and we always welcome help and input.

In December, we started a Monday, Wednesday, Friday initiative to test our engagement levels for the purpose of content direction. On Mondays we post empowerment quotes, we post fun facts on Wednesdays, and photos on Fridays. We did that consistently for about four months and you could see the engagement levels grow. I'm proud of that because as a new ERG, we want to ensure there is purpose in what we do and the only way I can get a sense of that is (for the most part), through the metrics – membership growth, meeting attendance, and engagement levels. So, that was encouraging.

What are the ERG goals for 2023 and beyond?

Cheng: I hope to continue on the natural path of membership growth and collaboration. I want to promote meaningful discourse, networking, and visibility of our group. I’m really looking forward to the upcoming DE&I Community Conversation (where I will be moderating) on May 24 for National Asian-American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.

My hope is that through these events, more people will join and support our group, to offer different perspectives and help shape our group (encouragingly, membership has nearly doubled since November). I welcome you all to be part of this journey! 

Lee: I want to make sure we continue to be a top resource for our members. If members have questions, we can help direct them to the right people. Our ERG is a safe space to be social and also a good resource for professional development.