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Asian ERG brings community, bridges cultures

Best Buy employees typically join Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) for allyship, belonging and community — sometimes referred to as the ABCs of ERGs. And the Asian ERG’s members get all of that and then some.

Best Buy’s Asian ERG (AERG) has almost 1,000 members and aims to represent and support everyone involved. That includes highlighting more than 48 countries and their respective cultural celebrations, from Lunar New Year and Diwali to Hmong New Year and Philippine Independence Day.

The group offers an outlet for purposeful interactions and a chance to learn more from one another. Whether it’s hearing about the holidays your co-workers celebrate or chatting about the passed-down-for-decades family recipe they made for lunch.

“The AERG helps us understand others’ identities and build trust in one another,” said Lauren Haffely, a senior program manager on the digital and technology team. She’s also part of the group’s leadership team.

One of Lauren’s favorite things about being in the Asian ERG is connecting with colleagues beyond just business matters.

“Some days, we spend more time with our co-workers than we do our families, so why not get to know them on a deeper level?” she said. “This group allows me to do just that.”

An added bonus: finding new friends across the enterprise. From marketing to merchandising, finance to field leaders, Lauren said she “would have never crossed paths with so many people without the AERG.”

The communal experience also drew in Pahchie Vang, an e-commerce web specialist who is now a member of the Asian ERG Steering Committee.

“I wanted to connect with people who understood the significance of my journey beyond the surface,” Pahchie said, referencing her Hmong American heritage. “Cultural humility has an immense impact on how we show up and lead.”  

Employees aren’t the only ones that benefit from ERGs, though. Our customers — and our business in general — can attest to the impact, too. Many ERG leaders are involved in big conversations like marketing campaigns. That’s what second-generation Korean American Rachel Lee’s role as ERG marketplace lead was made for.

“My goal is to make sure our marketing materials — to millions of customers — are inclusive and represent Asian Americans appropriately,” said Rachel, who helped bring Best Buy’s Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month campaign to life this year.

Celebrations big and small

Best Buy’s biggest annual celebration is its festival of lights for Diwali each October. Asian ERG Chair Arun Balakrishnan, who has become a well-known emcee for the event, said he’s proud to honor his Indian heritage.

“Events like Diwali help show the tremendous support and number of allies we have across Best Buy,” Arun said, recalling the pride he felt seeing the corporate campus full of Indian culture, cuisine and clothing prior to the pandemic. Even CEO Corie Barry attended, wearing an Indian kurta.

Of course, honoring heritage isn’t just tied to the largest holidays. Members also host a variety of get-togethers to keep conversations going throughout the year. Lunch-and-learn events, candid conversations, coffee chats and meditation sessions fill the calendar each month.

“I love being able to connect with others and do so in a manner that celebrates individuality and unique experiences,” Pahchie shared.

For some, even one meeting can make a big difference. Lauren once hosted a Filipino education session that moved a colleague to tears.

“I just learned more about my culture in an hour than I have in my entire life,” she told Lauren afterwards.

While events help bridge cultural differences, educate and enable belonging, they aren’t the only way to get involved. In addition to monthly newsletters, the Asian ERG has an online community to chat about life experiences, swap restaurant suggestions, share news and recognition, or post recordings of past events.

The AERG community and conversation is always open — to anyone. You do not need to be of Asian descent to join the Asian ERG.

“As long as you have a want to learn and an interest in hearing the conversations, you are welcome,” Lauren said, noting the group encourages allyship among employees. “In fact, if you aren’t an Asian American, you might even get more out of it.”

Click here to visit our Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month landing page on BestBuy.com.