Ray Leung

Director, Merkury Technical Operations & Support, dentsu

Each year, the month of May is dedicated to celebrating the achievements and contributions of Asian and Pacific Americans. Now that May has passed, it’s incumbent on all of us to keep the momentum going.

Here are a few ways in which we plan to champion a more inclusive world – both inside and outside of dentsu:

Dismantle the “fear of foreigness”

The issues of racism that we see today in this country are often the result of a “fear of foreignness” – the continued unwillingness to understand and accept other cultures without exploitation.

Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are often misunderstood and hence many faux pas (at best), or atrocities (at worst) were committed against us. History, whether it be global history or United States’ history has shown, that for every contribution Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders made, there is always a consequence, often detrimental and at our expense:

  • Discovery of spices, silk, gunpowder vs. East Asian colonialism and drug trade (grown and sold on East Asian lands by Westerners even though it was outlawed!)
  • Construction of the Transcontinental Railroad vs. Chinese Exclusion Acts
  • Serving in World War II vs. Internment of American citizens of Japanese descent
  • Contribution to industries and education vs being pitted against other minority groups due to underlying systematic issues of education standards in underserved communities.

It’s on us to learn the significant contributions that Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have made to the United States’ rich history, through our cultures and personalities, brought from our native lands. And in educating ourselves, we start dismantling the misunderstandings and misconceptions to uncover a simple truth: Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are your family, friends, co-workers, fellow citizens, and human beings – equals and not second-class citizens.

And with this simple understanding, we can all agree to treat each other with the same respect and manner.

Invest in Asian American and Pacific Islander talent

While many Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders might not speak up because they “do not want trouble,” it doesn’t mean everything is business as usual. Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are not just “cheap labor,” or “the model minority” that only exist to be exploited. If we are missing a skill, coach us. If we lack confidence, mentor us. And if we are the qualified leader to be head of a certain project, department, agency, company, or business pitch, advocate and endorse us.

Throughout history, we have given our all to this great nation, yet we are still waiting for the same in return, from our fellow Americans, to improve our lives, help us pursue our happiness, without fear of discrimination (implicit or explicit), as written in our Constitution.

Create a long-term allyship plan with goals

As many will say, “a plan without goals is just a dream.” Rather than focus all of your allyship effort around heritage months, consider a year-round allyship plan with tangible goals.

At dentsu, we are striving to keep APAHM conversations front and center, year-round. In addition to celebrating Asian Pacific American Heritage Month with events and bringing in guest speakers who have touched on AAPI history, personal stories, and sharing ways the dentsu community at large can stay educated, dentsu has also held events earlier this year to stand with us during our time of need in light of the recent rise of hate crimes committed against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

We’ve also created tangible goals that the wider community should strive to achieve year-round:

  • Create and foster inclusive spaces for AAPI employees with the rise in hate crimes​
  • Cultivate support network with open communication and monthly meetings​
  • Curate professional development workshops to empower employees to be more visible in the workplace​
  • Educate and immerse the dentsu community on AAPI culture through virtual events and holiday celebrations native to the AAPI community

Finally, serve as a role model, coach, sponsor or mentor

Personally, I strive to lead and serve as a role model for all Americans who want to enter the marketing industry, regardless of any human category. I also serve to coach and mentor to the underserved, as well as be an advocate, so long as they are willing to accept my guidance. As an Asian American, specifically a Chinese American, born and raised here in the United States, I am not always afforded the opportunity to be a leading voice in many situations. With the career that I have built at dentsu and Merkle over the past 10 years, I work to gain recognition, and like our leaders, also lift the unheard and the unseen. I look forward to seeing and being a part of dentsu’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.