MAY 07, 2021

CN Celebrates Asian Heritage Month With the Pan-Asian Community Engagement Employee Resource Group

In both Canada and the United States, May marks Asian Heritage Month. This month at CN, we will be learning about and celebrating the rich and diverse cultures and histories of CN’s Pan-Asian employees. We are also further introducing employees to CN’s Pan-Asian Community Engagement (P.A.C.E) Employee Resource Group (ERG) which was officially launched earlier this year.

P.A.C.E. began as a small organic and grassroots group of Pan-Asian colleagues who came together in order to support each other both personally and professionally. True to CN’s concept of the ONE Team working together and looking out for each other, this group of employees and their allies has since grown into a much larger community.

Following the official launch of the P.A.C.E. ERG, along with a variety of other new Employee Resource Groups as part of CN’s Diversity and Inclusion initiatives, P.A.C.E. is now 153 members strong and growing, representing members from 33 different countries of origin. The members of P.A.C.E. are committed to engaging CN employees, as well as supporting and amplifying Pan-Asian voices.

We had a chance to talk to P.A.C.E.’s co-chairs Sangtae Woo, Senior Manager Fleet Strategy & Analytics, and Inderpal Palmier, Manager Employee Relocation, about Asian Heritage Month, as well as the ERG itself.

What is the P.A.C.E. ERG and what is its role at CN?

“The P.A.C.E. ERG is a platform where Asian employees and their CN colleagues can celebrate diversity and inclusiveness,” says Inderpal Palmier. This diversity and inclusiveness is critical, continues Inderpal “to promoting company growth, professional development, and community engagement.”

Sangtae Woo echoes Inderpal’s sentiment. Sangtae says that he “wanted to create a secure and trusting space” where employees could express themselves. As a first generation immigrant, Sangtae emphasizes the importance of further creating a spirit of “belongingness at CN.”

“By creating a community where people can trust and share their thoughts,” Sangtae explains, “you can drive a more effective culture of diversity, inclusion, respect, and compassion.”

What does Asian Heritage Month mean to you?

Both Inderpal and Sangtae explain that Asian Heritage Month is an important time to recognize and celebrate the rich diversity of cultures represented in the Pan-Asian community. Asian Heritage Month is a “time for us to introduce diverse Pan-Asian cultures to all of CN,” explains Sangtae. This give us “an opportunity,” adds Inderpal, “to learn more about the richness and beauty of these cultures, their histories, and [a chance to] celebrate our communities at CN.”

For the month long festivities, the P.A.C.E. ERG has selected the theme of “Come Walk in Our Shoes” in order to emphasize the diversity of cultures and experiences in CN’s Pan-Asian community. The theme is an invitation to all CN employees to participate in and learn from the experiences, cultures, and stories of their coworkers.

Inderpal describes the theme as “particularly close to my heart.” She further explains, “As someone from an Asian background, [participating in the events of Asian Heritage Month] allows me to raise my experiences and as an audience member, learn and understand other employees’ experiences.”

Sangtae highlights the importance of understanding employees’ experiences as being transformational for the CN team as a whole, saying, “it is very important to try to relate to how employees from diverse backgrounds go through their lives, work, and career path. When we are better connected and understand each other, we perform better cross-functionally and cross-departmentally.”

To help the greater CN family come and walk in the shoes of their Pan-Asian coworkers, P.A.C.E. will be holding two big events this month. One will be in the style of a virtual panel discussion where P.A.C.E. members will share their stories as well as their experiences, and the second will be through a virtual fashion expo, where P.A.C.E. members will share their cultural backgrounds through traditional garments.

What are the next steps for the P.A.C.E. ERG?

While the P.A.C.E. community is excited for Asian Heritage Month, they continue to be focused on working towards longer-term goals. With more events in the works throughout the year that “bring the richness of Asian Culture and experiences to light,” says Inderpal, P.A.C.E. will continue to focus on its values of “growth, community, and education.”

The process, Sangtae describes is “a journey,” and one that will ultimately help to “cultivate a culture of compassion [that will] maximize our potential through full collaboration.”

How can CN employees get involved?

CN remains committed to welcoming and celebrating diversity, as well as fostering a culture of belonging where every one feels included and valued. We all have a role to play in embracing a workplace where CN employees can be their authentic selves without discrimination. As such, employees are invited to become members of any number of CN’s growing list of Employee Resource Groups by clicking on the email that they received announcing the launch. Employees are also empowered to recommend new resource groups from which CN employees could benefit.

On behalf of CN, as well as the P.A.C.E. ERG, we wish everyone a Happy Asian Heritage Month.