How Progressive’s Asian American Network (AANet) encourages cultural awareness

Progressive’s AANet aims to provide education about Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) cultures and experiences, in addition to empowering employees to achieve their career goals

5 min read

June 2023

Progressive employees in a large event space watching Diwali celebration event

For Pauline, a Progressive Marketing manager, getting involved with AANet—an Employee Resource Group (ERG)—has reinforced the power of sharing personal stories.

“Personal stories are incredibly powerful,” Pauline says. “They can foster an environment conducive to kindness, compassion, and healing.”

Born to parents who emigrated from China seeking better opportunities, Pauline has shared her own family’s story of resilience with others through her involvement with AANet.

Steve, a manager with the National Catastrophe Response Team (NCRT), has also had the opportunity to share his story through AANet. “Sharing my story with others has allowed me to be more comfortable in my own skin as an Asian American.”

AANet is one of nine ERGs available at Progressive. Through annual events, such as their Lunar New Year, Diwali, and AAPI Heritage Month celebrations, they aim to provide education about AAPI cultures and experiences, in addition to empowering employees to achieve their career goals.

Hear more of what Pauline and Steve had to share about how they’ve each embraced their Asian heritages with the support of AANet.

What encouraged you to get involved with AANet?

Pauline: As an Asian woman, I was immediately drawn to AANet as an affinity group. I joined the ERG soon after starting at Progressive in 2014. I was excited about AANet’s initiatives and was inspired to get involved with their outreach efforts. My first project with AANet was as part of their community outreach sub-team, where we focused on reaching the greater community beyond Progressive’s walls.

Steve: While I’d previously signed up to join ERGs, I hadn’t really gotten involved with them. Being of Japanese American heritage and now being the parent of multicultural kids, I’ve gained a heightened awareness of the issues going on in society and felt a duty to set an example. I didn’t want to just sit on the sidelines—I wanted to do my part to help make things better for my kids and others in the future. I’ve been able to lend a hand with AANet-led celebrations for Diwali and Lunar New Year, which help to bring awareness to others about cultural events within the AAPI community.

Have you found AANet to be beneficial in your career growth?

Pauline: As a board member of AANet, I work on a range of projects that impact not only employees throughout the company but also communities outside our walls. One project that stands out to me is our “Personal Stories” segment—which is part of our annual AAPI Heritage Month celebration—that I’ve had the pleasure of facilitating. We received such positive feedback from employees who really enjoyed hearing from their colleagues and learning more about AAPI cultural traditions.

Steve: My involvement with AANet has allowed me the opportunity to meet people from across the company. It’s afforded me the privilege of working with others on projects, learn more about them and the business areas they support, and share career advice with each other. Participating with AANet has also created space for other career development opportunities—one of those being the Accelerated Manager Development Program (AMDP). The AMDP develops future equity-level leaders by strengthening their cross-functional business knowledge and developing next-level leadership competencies. The projects I’ve been able to work on through AANet gave me a greater scope of the business, which helped to pave the way for me being selected for this program. Being involved in an ERG also helps me set an example for my own team. They see I’m not just talking about the importance of diversity and inclusion, but I’m acting upon it as well.

Has your involvement with AANet helped connect you with others in the AAPI community?

Pauline: Absolutely, especially in the past few years where there has been a rising tide of anti-Asian sentiment. AANet is here to provide support in challenging times such as these. It has given us a safe space to share personal struggles and feelings, a listening ear for those who needed to talk, and it increased awareness by promoting education about AAPI communities. I’ve learned that sharing our experiences and hearing more about the lives of those around us is one of the best ways to make connections, build relationships and trust, and even open minds.

Steve: I’ve never been more proud of being an Asian American and being an advocate for this community. Being a part of AANet has helped me to become more comfortable with who I am. It’s also helped me in talking to my kids about their culture and who they are.

What advice would you give to others about joining an ERG?

Pauline: You have nothing to lose and so much to gain by joining an ERG! A good way to get started is by joining an ERG aligned with a group you have an affinity with, then explore others representing groups you’d like to learn more about.

Steve: My involvement in ERGs has introduced me to some amazing people outside of my work group that I otherwise may not have met. Not only has it allowed me to meet and network with other people, but it’s provided a safe space for myself and others to talk about our own struggles, while also helping me to become more aware of and talk about my own biases.

Learn more about ERGs along with our other diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts at Progressive.

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