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Processes and Opportunities for Representation on Teams

"DEI work is not about programs that can be checked off at the end with the discovery of “unconscious bias”, nor is it the accountability of DEI and recruiting teams alone. It is taking a critical look at every process and opportunities that we are missing when reviewing representation on teams – including leadership placement – and on-going retention commitments to support the growth of the community.”

Ginny Cheng

Career Coach for Career Contessa and Head of BizRev Recruiting & Talent Marketing

Zillow

What has best prepared you to be a Recruiting leader and manage people? Why? 

My personal career journey has been full of people taking chances on me and understanding transferable skills are often overlooked.  These included two personal career pivots…so far. As a result, I like to identify people that possess the will and the skill in different ways.  You also don’t need “brand name” companies to showcase your ability or validate your worth.   I believe people evolve as they grow and sometimes it takes creating psychological safety for team members to take the “risk” with their ideas and passion.  I strive to be a coach, not simply a manager.  

What was your journey to becoming an employee resource group (ERG) leader? 

I’ve always been a part of similar ERG communities externally – including being an officer and Board Member for a national API professional group for several years.  It was my way to learn about issues that are most pressing and get the opportunity to connect problem solvers and/or share resources to support the API community. 

Before I was asked to join as a Board Member, I participated in different ways as a general member but the true heroes of our API ERG is actually the dedicated officers that planned and execute all of the member engagement conversations and programming

What are the goals of API ERG? (i.e. internal, external, community, professional development, recruitment, inclusive product design, programming) 

We want to create a welcoming community for API employees and allies,  which is even more important now in a virtual setting.  Many of Zillow’s teams are now remote, permanently. Each year, we ask our community to help us prioritize the programming they need/want most.  The unfortunate rise of API hate and violence meant opening up tough but needed conversations and self-reflection in 2021. With the importance of intersectionality, we partner with other ERGs to co-sponsor events and conversations to bring the community together, including women leadership panels. 

What are some of your accomplishments over the past year in the employee experience and how would you measure your impact? 

First of all, a special mention to all the 2021 API Leadership Council for their tremendous work on top of their full time jobs. We had a fruitful year as we continued to focus on engagement through our virtual working environment.  From cultural celebrations to leadership panels that invoke discussions and action, to educating about the significance of the AAPI Month.  We also incorporated events to address self care and mental health and fun virtual events like #dumpthehate dumpling making party and gave away Asian snack boxes that celebrate the various new years in the East and South asian cultures.  In several cases, we partnered with other ERGs at the company for these initiatives to bring more of us together rather than just siloed events

We celebrate Members of the quarter and highlight them in our slack channels and our quarterly newsletters.  I was honored to have been selected in Q2. How we measure our impact will be on-going but suffice to say it includes looking at engagement and overall feedback of our programming (based on the original survey on what the members wanted us to focus each year)

How are you celebrated and compensated as an ERG leader at COMPANY? 

Zillow has done several matching donation initiatives for BLM and #stopasianhate as part of Zillow For Good initiatives.  I think that commitment is important to continue. 

Our Equity & Belonging team find ways to ensure ERG volunteers work is recognized as part of their performance.  This include hosting sessions for their managers and educating the importance of their contribution for the culture of the company

With AAPI Heritage Month 2022 approaching, what are authentic ways that companies can celebrate and honor this time? 

We appreciate dedicated months to focus and celebrate the ERGs but finding ways to incorporate in the day-to-day is more important:  Investing in our growth, opening internal mobility opportunities and being our sponsor when we are not in the room 

AAPI Heritage Month is also a good time to remind everyone that we are the makeup of many ethnicities and different experiences and grouping us into one monolith group means we are not addressing the right needs for particular groups

What advice do you have for folks looking to start or lead an ERG within their organization?

DEI work is not about programs that can be checked off at the end with the discovery of “unconscious bias”, nor is it the accountability of DEI and recruiting teams alone.  It is taking a critical look at every process and opportunities that we are missing when reviewing representation on teams – including leadership placement – and on-going retention commitments to support the growth of the community. Ensuring all leaders are advocates of the work for the long-haul.  

What is your call to action for leaders (executives and decision-makers in general at a company) to support the work of ERGs? 

ERGs are not fond of performative allyship by their companies.  We want the conversations to flow naturally between the voice of what ERG communities need and how executives can play a vital role in ensuring those get translated to action that is meaningful and long-term. 

What is one of your proudest moments and why? 

Seeing how employees and allies from across the business engaged with the different programming of all of our ERGs is powerful. Including when we had the opportunity to invite speakers for an open conversation about how Anti-Asian violence was slow to be picked up by the media and how it revealed some of the stereo types of APIs can perpetuate some myths at work and life.  One of the speakers was Amanda Nguyen, whose 2021 video made the world take notice on anti-Asian hate crimes and sparked a critical moment for the #stopasianhate movement.  I was honored to have facilitated that conversation as a moderator. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amanda_Nguyen)

Is there anything else you’d like to share? 

DEI teams are often too lean in larger companies so perhaps knowing the kind of work is never-ending and can burn out easily, it’s good to evaluate the structure frequently to ensure there is enough support

It’s never too early to start or focus on DEI efforts in a company.  It’s easier to start when you are a smaller start up because the foundation will encourage you to create those value and process that you can eventually scale 

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