Breaking the Bamboo Ceiling for Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

By Trâm Phi, Docusign SVP and General Counsel and PAVE Executive Sponsor

The charter of Docusign PAVE (Pan Asian Voices for Equity) is to foster inclusion among employees with Asian backgrounds and/or experiences through our pillars of empowerment, cultural celebration, and community building.

This month, in honor of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, Docusign PAVE, along with Asian Hustle Network, hosted a panel discussion called “Breaking the Bamboo Ceiling” (the enhanced challenges that many Asian and Asian‑American professionals face reaching the highest levels of leadership in representative numbers).

I was honored to have been able to participate on the panel with Inhi Cho Suh, a member of the Docusign Board of Directors and IBM’s General Manager of Watson Customer Engagement, and Felix Lee, Partner at Fenwick & West, discussing how to make sure our voices are heard without losing touch with our Asian heritage, overcome challenges in the workplace and form allies in the workforce, as well as advising aspiring professionals on advancing their career.

Three major themes stood out to me in the discussion on how to succeed in the workplace while staying true to your roots:

  1. Stand out by lifting up others: Being acknowledged doesn’t necessarily mean having to tout your own success – a rising tide can lift all boats. It’s important to cultivate an environment where we share credit, call out the good work of colleagues and solicit participation from those who we see are more reticent to speak in large groups.
  2. Be a change agent: Sometimes challenges arise that affect the dynamic of your team or group. As Inhi Cho Suh put it, it’s important in group settings to be a “thermometer” - someone who can take the temperature of a group and spot a problem early on. Other times, you can go one step further and be a “thermostat,” and change the temperature of the group to positively impact the group dynamic.
  3. The importance of mentorship: Mentorship is important, but that doesn’t mean limiting yourself to finding that one ideal mentor. Felix Lee had a great idea about the concept of a “personal board of directors,” where you identify a variety of experts in specific areas that you think are important to your development and solicit feedback and opinions from all of those individuals. Also, don’t underestimate the value of mentorship from peers, as their advice can be more timely and pertinent.

This month, more than ever, I’m proud to be the executive sponsor of PAVE. Check out the Docusign Careers site to learn more about our employee resource groups!

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