Asian Pacific American Heritage Month: The importance of community
As one of the co-leads and founders of elevAsian, Oath's Asian-focused employee resource group, Cindy Joung is passionate about raising awareness both within and about the Asian community. "We work to educate and create awareness, it's not just a social club," says Cindy about the group. "It's great that we hold happy hours and that's what brings people in, but it's more important that we create community and create opportunities for education. For every Lunar New Year party we host with dumplings and lion dancers, we also hold smaller workshops on microaggressions or breaking the bamboo ceiling."
As Asian Pacific American Heritage Month wraps up this May, we speak with Cindy about elevAsian, its importance to Oath, and her career.
Name: Cindy Joung
Title: Product Manager on Yahoo Entertainment (formerly Aol.com)
Location: New York, NY
Years at Oath: 3
Previous employers: Ashe Avenue (Aol acquired in 2015), Whalerock, Kin Community
Education: Northwestern University
Major: Economics and Art
Hometown: Chicago, IL
Outside of work: My foodsta @pinathefoodthief, archery, Depeche Mode
Oath: Be the change
It's clear your work with elevAsian is a passion point. Why is the group so important to you, and to our company?
Representation of all underrepresented people is close to my heart.
Like the rest of the eight employee resource groups at Oath, elevAsian is important here because we are fighting for equality and inclusion in the workplace. We're here to support those who identify as Asian (and our allies) and ensure that the global nature of our business is reflected in our workforce.
We create programming that unites Asians and hopefully grows their careers within Oath and beyond.
How has Oath honored Asian Pacific American Heritage Month?
elevAsian has been celebrating APAHM with various activations across offices. We empowered our amazing chapter leads to come up with programming that they were passionate about and would be of interest to their co-workers. As with any commemorative month, our aim is to not only celebrate our rich cultures but to educate people about our history and current struggles. Two of our main themes are mental health in the Asian-American community and underrepresentation of Asians in leadership.
We understand the programming you've developed moves outside of just Oath. Tell us about the partnerships we have with other companies.
Yes, we do activities with other organizations. We partner with Asian-focused employee resource groups at Facebook, Spotify, Buzzfeed, Viacom and other tech and media companies. I try to make us a good corporate citizen among our peers and help people network and create community.
Why is diversity so important in the tech space?
Diversity is important in every space. Period. Diversity creates a more qualified workforce: it increases perspectives, creativity, and performance, among other factors. For a for-profit company, especially one that creates consumer products like Oath, it better serves a diverse user base. The more we can empathize with users, the better products we can build.
What made you want to go into the media and technology space in the first place?
I started my career in entertainment. Once I realized I didn't actually have to be a doctor, I decided I wanted to produce films. So I moved to LA from Chicago, and started working my way up that crazy industry. I was at a production company waiting for our film division to take off when they sold a celebrity website to MSN. Since it was a start-up, they needed to staff up that project quickly and they asked me to join that team. I began in editorial and realized quickly I disliked writing, but had a penchant for solving and working on tech-related issues. I eventually moved over to product management. In the end, I still kind of get to 'produce.' The only difference is that I now make digital products and not films.
What's life like at Oath for you?
Oath is the largest company I've ever worked at—prior to this the largest was fewer than 100 people—so it's interesting how different every day can be. It's fascinating how each office and team has its own culture. I'm always amazed by the people and their passions. Whether it's about Oath or personal interests, Oath employees are eager to share their passions and accomplishments, and it's quite lovely to find they're always supported by their co-workers. I'm big on community so I appreciate the small things that connect us.