What does it mean to belong? Seven Hashi:Blend Employee Resource Group members talk about the impact multiracialism and multiculturalism have on their identity.
In a world where more people than ever identify as multiracial or multicultural, the Hashi:Blend Employee Resource Group (ERG) has a mission: To create a space for employees who identify as multiracial, multicultural, and/or multiethnic, along with folks with mixed families and transracial adoptees.
Now with over 110 members, the group was formed to support and celebrate the multidimensionality of people’s racial and cultural identities by creating a sense of belonging, promoting opportunities to connect and learn from each other about the mixed experience, and fostering a culture at HashiCorp that embraces people’s differences.
Here, the founders and members of Hashi:Blend talk about the group’s beginnings and the voice the group is bringing to the mixed experience at HashiCorp.
Tricia Apperson, Cloud Partner Sales Manager: The idea for Hashi:Blend sprang from a question: “Where does someone like me belong?”
As a person who comes from a racially and culturally mixed background, it’s not often that I get to meet with or talk to another person with similar experiences — navigating through dueling cultural values, wondering why I didn’t look like my parents or siblings, or trying to come up with an answer to curious strangers asking the question, “What are you?” Trying to look for inclusion within communities that were more monoracial made me feel as though I had to pick only one part of my background and ignore or silence the rest.
However, as I dove deeper into the question over recent years, I found that there were more and more people popping up in the media who identified as mixed and seemed to be on the same journey to not only find themselves but others who understood what it was like. At that point I knew that the question was no longer, “Where does someone like me belong?” but, “Where do people like us belong?”
Bringing a voice to the mixed experience and creating a space for connections to be made between people who identify with multiple racial and/or cultural backgrounds, folks who come from mixed families, or people starting their own mixed families was what pushed Hashi:Blend from idea to existence.
As we launched, we realized that we were charting new waters — there weren’t many other ERGs with similar missions. What joined us together was the drive to learn collectively versus on our own, and for many of us, this was a very welcome first.
Tricia: What sets Hashi:Blend apart from other ERGs with a multicultural focus is that Hashi:Blend members not only come from different races and cultures, but those different backgrounds come together within a single person.
Our ERG has a strong focus on celebrating differences, not only between each other but also by honoring the differences within ourselves. Instead of asking members to prioritize or select one of the cultures or races that make up who they are, we grapple with topics such as racial fluidity, codeswitching, and how to access a culture we may have become removed from across generations.
We also represent people who come from mixed families or have mixed children. We’ve found that the mixed experience cuts across the relationships in our lives and that the dynamics of mixed families resonate with that of a mixed individual.
Robert Preston, Accounting Manager: We want to create a community where our members can unpack and heal from their mixed experiences. Growing up, and even now, I was treated differently depending on where I was or who I was around. To some, I was part of each of my ethnic backgrounds and cultures. To others, I was only one or none, as I wasn’t 100% representative of a single race or culture. Sometimes I was even considered part of groups that aren’t part of my ethnic or cultural background. As a result, I felt alone and worried that I wouldn’t find many people that I could connect with.
In the last year or two, I finally began finding multiracial communities (both ERGs and on social media) of people with experience navigating the all too familiar question: “What are you?” Over the last decade I’ve learned to educate myself and embrace my many backgrounds, no matter what people may say. I don’t want my future children to experience that feeling of loneliness and I hope that we achieve the same results with members of Hashi:Blend.
Fallon T. Petty, Senior Corporate Recruiter: Hashi:Blend means I have a safe space within the company to meet, share, and have conversations about digging into my identity and mixed background. Hashi:Blend means I’m part of a community that is looking for a healthy way to view and embrace being multi+. Hashi:Blend has connected me with other employees who have complex backgrounds from all over the world. Even though I don’t have the same type of background or culture as another person, we can understand each other’s resiliency by sharing stories, discussing ways to identify with ourselves, and problem-solving on personal roadblocks.
Hashi:Blend has helped me be comfortable with ambiguity and be a student of my own cultural challenges. I’m in my early thirties learning how to demonstrate my multicultural qualities and be confident by being part of Hashi:Blend. This ERG has given me a platform to showcase who I am in the workplace and my own home.
Aurora Chun, Partner Marketing Manager: Hashi:Blend is a supportive community where I can learn and be heard by so many diverse teammates. Everyone has a story about their blended families and cultures and it's beautiful to have a safe space to discuss complex topics about our identities.
Chima Igwe, Sales Development Representative: Hashi:Blend means a lot to me. It‘s providing a platform to learn, support, and celebrate the intricacies of race and culture. I’m monoracial and multicultural and my kids are multiracial and multicultural. I recognize their experience will not be mine, so having a safe space to expand my perspective, challenge my assumptions, and just grow is super dope!
Frank Hane, Domain Architecture Manager: To me, Hashi:Blend is a community where one plus one does not simply add up to two. It’s a community where diverse backgrounds, ethnicities, and environments all combine and blend into something much more than the sum of its parts. I’m proud to be part of the community and share our experiences.
Kelly Kitagawa, Senior Solutions Engineer: Hashi:Blend means there’s a space that celebrates the idea that not all of us fit into one box. Even though more than 33 million Americans identify as being two or more races (which makes us the fastest-growing demographic in the country), it’s still not that common to talk about and few spaces for us exist.
My whole life I’ve felt that I constantly need to prove to others (or myself) that I belong. I feel proud to work at a place where “other” is celebrated and there is recognition that our identities can be intersectional. I am American, I am bi-racial, I am Mexican, I am Japanese, I am a woman, I am…me. I’ve never worked at a company with a community aimed at people from blended families. I think it’s the new evolution of ERGs.
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