Posted at 10:59 AM
Created on December 21, 2015
It’s a long-standing problem that continues to impact businesses and organizations across the nation at every level. A group of more than 100 Asian- American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) business leaders and owners gathered in Washington, DC, to seek answers and develop a plan of action to increase diversity and business opportunities within the AAPI community.
Members of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders(WHIAAPI), the Asian/Pacific Islander American Chamber of Commerce and Entrepreneurship (ACE),and the U.S. Department of Commerce, Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA), partnered to host the Asian American and Pacific Islander Employee/Business Resource Group National Roundtable II. The day-long event was held at the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Herbert Hoover Building on Dec. 8, 2015 and hosted by Albert K. Shen, MBDA National Deputy Director.
The first roundtable was held November 2014, at the White House and hosted by the WHIAAPI and ACE. According the White House website, WHIAAPI’s mission is “to improve the quality of life and opportunities for AAPIs by facilitating increased access to and participation in federal programs, where AAPIs remain underserved.” ACE is a national organization that works to support the business interests of Asian American and Pacific Islanders, focusing on the economic, political, and social well-being of AAPI community. WHIAAPI Senior Advisor George Mui, updated attendees on efforts to reach AAPIs around the U.S. and ways to gain access to federal contracts and business.
Some of the key issues discussed were the importance of employee engagement and development: increasing diversity in senior levels of government; building and leveraging business partnerships; mentoring and educating minority business owners on available federal resources.
The Honorable Bruce Andrews, Deputy Secretary of the Department of Commerce, was the keynote speaker. “People are our greatest asset,” Andrews said. “If you don’t have a diverse set of people or businesses with a diverse set of viewpoints, you are selling yourself short. Diversity matters.”
In her remarks, MBDA National Director Alejandra Y. Castillo highlighted the importance of policy development, the history of MBDA, and the many ways that the Department of Commerce impacts the lives of business owners and leaders. Director Castillo also urged attendees to participate in advisory councils and submit their recommendations for how the federal government can better serve APPIs professionals and business owners.
ACE CEO Sach Takayasu , ACE National Chairman Helene Yan, The Honorable Doua Thor, Executive Director of WHIAPPI, U.S. Department of Labor Deputy Secretary Christopher Lu, and the U.S. Department of Commerce Assistant Secretary for the Economic Development Administration Jay Williams also provided remarks during the roundtable.
Business leaders and representatives from AT&T, Bank of America, Coca-Cola, McDonalds, Google, Citi, Wal-Mart, Booz Allen Hamilton, and Toyota participated in panel discussions and breakout sessions. Topics included best practices in business development; education; mentorship/sponsorship and talent management; and the role of arts/culture, and philanthropy.