Asian communities have faced rising hate and harassment over the past year. The recent tragic events in Atlanta may have focused more media attention on this injustice, but we understand that our Asian colleagues have been dealing with the stress and sorrow caused by a wave of racist violence for months now.
As a company, Kalderos strongly condemns both these hateful actions and the attitudes and rhetoric that enable them. Diversity, equity and inclusion are foundational principles for us, and we want our Asian colleagues as well as our Asian neighbors in Chicago and Milwaukee to know that we stand with them, now and always.
With celebrating diversity already a key aspect of our culture, the third week of March was a previously scheduled, inaugural DEI week at Kalderos. Among the planned events was a company sponsored lunch with the recently launched Asian Affinity Group. Given recent events, this time turned out to be an important moment for all of us to come together to support and celebrate our Asian colleagues.
Mike Tai, vice president of technology at Kalderos, said it well in his introduction at the lunch:
We can’t let the haters win. We will still celebrate being Asian loudly in forums like this and not take away the joy of being Asian or being able to share our experiences with others.
<span class="quote-author">Mike Tai</span>
<span class="quote-title">VP of Technology, Kalderos</span>
Kalderos is also a great place for foodies; just look at our #social-foodies Slack channel. Sharing our love of food with others seems to be baked (so to speak) into the company’s DNA. In that tradition, the AAG created a crowd-sourced Google doc sharing their suggestions for favorite Asian restaurants (and menu items) near the Chicago office. Every team member who joined the lunch also received a $15 credit to their corporate DoorDash accounts.
While we gathered together virtually to eat our delicious lunches, AAG members presented a slideshow with even more mouthwatering photos, as they offered their own reflections, recommendations and fascinating facts about Asian food:
- Mike Tai shared the secret to his dad’s locally famous scallion pancakes and also gave an overview of the eight different regional cuisine types in China.
- Customer relationship manager Jyoti Gill filled us in on the true origins of chicken tikka masala (not India, it turns out) and recommended her favorite Indian vegetarian dishes.
- Senior data scientist Inh Jee told us where to find the most authentic Korean food in Chicagoland.
- Brand designer Emi Tolibas and identity and access management manager Joe Bangit connected food to family with an engaging dialogue on how family recipes differ (but every family’s chicken adobo recipe is the best!), and showed us cute purple pastries made with ube, a vivid-hued yam that’s a staple in Filipino desserts.
- Scrum master Anam Rafi shared her love of biryani, a versatile dish that’s endlessly able to evolve with each culture, region or individual who prepares it.
- And senior growth design strategist Todd Cooke gave shout-outs to some of his favorite Asian food entrepreneurs in Chicago.
Gill, an AAG member who helped plan DEI week, said, “To me, the best way to get to know someone is to have a meal with them.” Thanks to this event, we expanded our knowledge of Asian cuisines in Chicago, and we also had a wonderful opportunity to get to know our colleagues better.
As the AAG grows, the group is focusing on three areas: fun, education and outreach. They developed this framework with guidance from HR business partner Steven Stojak, whose role includes supporting DEI at Kalderos. With fun, education and outreach in mind, the group can create more intentional and purposeful activities. For example, Stojak says, the lunch that AAG hosted appealed to all three areas: “a fun lunch, educating team members about different foods, and outreach through donations to Asian Americans Advancing Justice.”
With matching donations from Kalderos, the DEI council was able to donate $1,000 to Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAAJ). This advocacy and civic engagement organization is currently hosting bystander intervention trainings that equip community members with strategies to intervene against harassment and discrimination. The Atlanta chapter of AAAJ is also organizing a community response to mourn the victims of the recent attack and provide support to their families.
“I think DEI week was a huge success,” said Gill. “…The thing that resonated with me most from our discussions is that it’s everyone’s job to advocate for DEI, not just during the week, but all the time — both at work and in our personal lives.”