How Workiva’s Asian BERG Takes Employees on a Journey of Discovery and Celebration

Team members describe how the business employee resource group offers space to be vulnerable, learn from others and enjoy good food — and even better company.

Written by Olivia McClure
Published on May. 29, 2024
How Workiva’s Asian BERG Takes Employees on a Journey of Discovery and Celebration
Photo: Workiva
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Have you wondered what it would be like to have your company’s executive team eat a bowl of spicy ramen while answering random questions in front of a crowd of employees?

The members of Workiva’s Asian business employee resource group did — so they made it happen. In celebration of Asian History Month, and the BERG’s marquee month, the group put on a series of events and initiatives, including the “Live Spicy Ramen Challenge,” to highlight the culture and traditions of the world’s Asian communities, many of which are represented across the company. 

According to VP of Global Sales Operations Ja-Yee Or, the Asian BERG’s May events were grounded in three pillars that unite the world’s Asian communities: food, family and great conversation. So whether employees shared a family member’s famous dumpling recipe or bonded over an inspiring book, they had the chance to find common ground with each other. 

While May played host to a plethora of meaningful moments, the impact of Workiva’s Asian BERG extends beyond its marquee month. Localization Program Manager Liming Pals believes the group has always been a catalyst for greater acknowledgement of holidays and traditions and, most importantly, deeper conversations that lead to a more profound understanding of others. 

“Vulnerability and openness really drive belonging,” Pals said. 

This honest approach guides every choice leaders make in the Asian BERG, such as the decision to take the “American” out of the commonly referenced “Asian-American experience,” as this phrase neglects the Asian individuals who operate out of Workiva’s offices in Europe and Asia. 

“It’s not just about Americans — it’s about the global community,” Or said. 

All of the Asian BERG’s efforts, from in-person events to ongoing initiatives, are rooted in the group’s mission statement: “Empower Asian Workivians to reach our fullest potential by nurturing cross-company connections and inspiring community engagement through the celebration of diverse Asian cultures.” 

For Or and Pals, it’s a vision that’s visible throughout the month of May — and all year long. 
 

BUILDING ‘A BETTER WORLD’

Workiva’s cloud-based platform is designed to simplify and connect companies’ regulatory, financial and operational reporting. The company is guided by the mission “to power transparent reporting for a better world,” which is reflected in its solutions — and the spirit of its people. “We all truly believe in this vision,” Or said. “I know it sounds super cheesy, but we really do.” 

 

 

‘We’re All On This Journey Together’

Pals and her peers wanted to make May a truly unforgettable one for Workiva’s Asian BERG — one that was as delicious as it was impactful. 

That’s what inspired them to create a cookbook by compiling recipes from Asian BERG members. And once they got started, they were surprised by what followed. 
“We immediately had team members send us recipes related to Japanese, Thai and all kinds of other Asian cuisines,” Pals recalled. 

Pals said she and the rest of those involved took the undertaking seriously, seeking support from leaders and cross-functional team members while collaborating with a marketing content designer to craft the digital cookbook. In the end, the cookbook served as both a testament to sharing individuals’ unique experiences and a guide for delectable, home-spun cuisine. 

But, of course, there were many other ways in which employees shared their personal journeys. Or said that the Asian BERG kicked things off with a fireside chat with Workiva Board Member Suku Radia, who shared an inspiring story related to his Asian heritage. 

For Or, having people share their voices was a fundamental component of the May festivities, culminating in an enlightening discussion about mental health, which she helped moderate. This session, which was supported by the company’s Asian, Black and Disabilities BERGs, allowed team members to engage in a candid conversation that impacted everyone in attendance, including herself. 

“It was a large group with over 100 attendees, yet Workvia’s culture made us feel comfortable enough to dive deep, share very personal experiences and be vulnerable with each other about a topic that’s often taboo in Asian culture and other cultures,” Or said. “It helped me and others realize even more that we aren’t alone; everyone is human, and we’re all on this journey together.”

But that’s not the only successful collaboration that took place during the month. Or shared that the Asian BERG worked with the Rainbow BERG to host an LGBTQ+ book club, through which members read Malinda Lo’s novel, A Scatter of Light

This amalgamation of events and topics showcases how, as Or explained, the Asian BERG is a unique space in which casual chats about Lunar New Year may be met with a more serious discussion about healthcare. And not only does this bring employees closer together with deeper respect and greater collaboration, it also bolsters the vision and values that uphold Workiva as a whole. 

“Our company values really focus on being authentic and open with each other,” she said. “That’s how the BERG fits into the larger company mission.”
 

‘A NEW WAY TO CONNECT GLOBALLY’

According to Or, the company’s Asian BERG is one of several that arose out of a desire to foster deeper connections among employees. 

Each BERG has its own executive sponsor, a committee chair and leaders who spearhead different initiatives or group functions, all of whom volunteer to hold their given positions. Or, who is the chair for collaboration on the Asian BERG, believes the company’s BERGs have proven successful in bringing team members together across the company’s offices in North America, Europe and APAC. 

“I love how our BERGs give us a new way to connect globally that wouldn’t otherwise be available to us,” she said. 

 

Inclusion All Year Long

Workiva’s Asian BERG has radically redefined Or’s experience at the company, empowering her to build unexpected bonds with colleagues and help others do the same. 

“Without this BERG, I don’t think I would have met a lot of the people I have or have so many really interesting conversations,” she said. “We’re just really lucky to have this company that supports us and lets us run with it in the way that our members see fit rather than saying, ‘Hey, we’re gonna dictate from the top.’” 

For Pals, this focus on international relationship-building involves carving out space to enable everyone to share their voices, which she aims to accomplish through Workiva’s intranet, called Connect. She helps employees share their personal stories on the platform, enabling others to learn from their unique experiences. 

“We make sure we spotlight our members to create a space where we can share our traditions and cultures and celebrate our holidays across all kinds of ethnic groups within the Asian community,” she said. 

 

“We spotlight our members to create a space where we can share our traditions and cultures and celebrate our holidays across all kinds of ethnic groups within the Asian community.”

 

Those involved in Workiva’s Asian BERG are free to be themselves, whether they’re having a candid conversation about mental health or sharing a meal with a coworker. And it’s this freedom to be authentic that captivates Pals the most, making her feel as though she — and everyone else — can embrace who they are wholeheartedly. 

“I work at a really unique company where I can actually say some stuff that I may have been uncomfortable saying at another organization,” she shared. “At Workiva, I don’t feel like anything is going to come back at me in a negative way. People are open to hearing about my differences and sharing theirs, and then we can move forward together.” 
 

Responses have been edited for length and clarity. Images provided by Workiva.

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