Illuminating the Asian and Pacific Islander Community at PagerDuty

by Ellen Liu June 1, 2022 | 5 min read

In March 2021, a group of Asian-identifying PagerDuty employees (“Dutonians”) and I gathered to discuss the rise of Asian hate crimes observed globally as well as a racially-motivated fatal shooting in Atlanta. Little did we know that a year later, these conversations would lead to a vibrant virtual space for the Asian/Pacific Islander community to connect, share resources, and begin healing as a collective. 

This May’s Asian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month (APHM) celebrations in the United States and Canada also marked the one-year anniversary of Illuminate, the official name of PagerDuty’s Employee Resource Group (ERG) for Asian and Pacific Islander employees. Why “Illuminate?” We came up with several acronyms and generic names, but none of them felt right. However, we kept coming back to one theme: feeling invisible.

Within the broader “Asian and Pacific Islander” community, there are scores of different voices, but they are not all equally heard. “Illuminate” represents the need to provide a space for and shine a light on everyone in our community and the variety of unique experiences they have to share.

Reflecting on Illuminate’s first year

Illuminate’s mission is to support and empower Asian and Pacific Islander employees by creating a safe and inclusive space for the A/PI community and by promoting cultural and social awareness at PagerDuty. There are now more than 70 Dutonians in our community, and membership continues to grow. 

The ERG has evolved into something greater and so much more meaningful than what I originally envisioned. We’ve developed our community and engaged with the broader company in several different ways:

  • Bi-Monthly Internal Meetings: We share time and space with each other, celebrating cultural holidays  and calling out member’s wins (promotions, work anniversaries, and awards) while also providing space for reflection and an opportunity to lean on this unique group. Through these gatherings, we connect with people we would otherwise not come across in our day-to-day lives at work, which has become increasingly important in this remote-first environment.
  • Food Story Collection: In celebration of A/PI Heritage Month 2021, we gathered stories from A/PI Dutonians to showcase our diverse culture and heritage through our universal love language — food. 
  • Connect on Slack: In our private ERG channel, community members connect with each other via shared experiences, which drives a greater sense of belonging.

How we celebrated APHM 2022

This year’s Asian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month was our first large-scale programming initiative, engaging the company and our own community through various events:

  • A/PI Trivia Extravaganza: Illuminate hosted a virtual trivia game where teams competed in challenges and learned about various Asian food, culture, and traditions. Among the many fun facts shared during the event was that a staggering 60% of the world’s population lives in Asia. The winners received $2,000 to donate to two non-profit organizations focused on supporting their local Asian communities.
  • Voices of Asian/Pacific Islander Playlist: We curated a music playlist that celebrates the multitude of genre-spanning artists that come from our community.
  • Real-Time Social Impact: We partnered with San Francisco’s Chinatown YMCA for a volunteer event at its Food Pantry. Volunteers helped move food and pack bags for 240 households in the local Chinatown community. 
  • Weekly Spotlight on A/PI Dutonians: In the spirit of lifting up stories from our community, Illuminate borrowed a page from other PagerDuty ERGs and highlighted different members of the group to company-wide channels and social media platforms.
  • Highlighting A/PI Dutonians Panel: To cap off the month, Illuminate put together a virtual event where panelists shared their diverse perspectives around how their cultural identities shaped their childhood and who they are today, how they’ve been impacted by racial stereotypes, and how they have been able to grow with their multicultural identities as East Asian and South Asian Americans/Canadians.

Illuminating The Way Forward

I am beyond proud of what we accomplished in the last year and how far we have come from our humble beginnings. I also want to recognize how much work we still have ahead of us.

Illuminate is only one of six ERGs at PagerDuty, and there is an abundance of opportunity to do important intersectional work across our different underrepresented groups. And while APHM was our first major initiative as an official ERG, it will not be our last! We will continue to organize and develop programs that will positively impact our community. Our journey has only just begun.

On a personal note, I am grateful for the chance that Illuminate gave me and my peers to uplift a part of our identities at work that we may not have had the space to do before. Moving forward, I hope for more community care and an increasing sense of inclusion and belonging. 

Happy Asian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month from PagerDuty!