Happy Monday, and welcome back from the Thanksgiving holiday, for all of our US friends that celebrated! We are kicking the week off feeling thankful, fortunate and ready to inspire, thanks to our INSPIRE 20 podcast this week, featuring Anna Mok, President and Chairman of Ascend Leadership.
That was then, this is now
15 years ago, when Anna co-founded Ascend Leadership, a non-profit Pan-Asian organization for business people in North America, she found that many Asian-American and Canadian-Asians were “stuck in the middle”, and weren’t being represented on boards and within executive leadership. Since then, Ascend Leadership has been able to help enable Pan-Asian business professionals to reach their full career potentials, which in turn creates a bigger impact in the workplace and in their communities. Today, Ascend Leadership has a number of networks across North America, building on different career levels, as well as publishing thought leadership pieces to educate their community on Asian-American advancement in the workplace.
The pandemic effect
Anna and her family came to America when she was just 6 months old, but Anna says she has always felt strong ties to her Asian culture, which has made the negative impacts of COVID-19 on the Asian-American culture especially heart-breaking for her. She talks to us about how she has seen the pandemic affect her community. From small businesses owned by Asian-Americans to a rise in micro- aggressions in the workplace. Anna and the Ascend Leadership organization have responded by expanding their charitable work in their communities, working to support small businesses and hosting a fundraiser to raise money for PPEs at local hospitals.
Individual growth sparks business success
Anna also shares her thoughts on how organizations can attract and retain diverse talent, especially in the Pan-Asian community, by taking a step back and looking at what is embedded in their processes. She explains that often in the workplace, underrepresented groups are not included in the “inner circle”, and therefore are not getting the same access to assignments or opportunities for growth. Anna asks that while looking at their processes, companies also need to look at how to help their employees thrive, putting them in assignments that allow them to grow as individuals, both in the workplace and in their communities and helping them be successful and breakthrough into groups or teams where they may not have access.