Taste of Instacart

Creating Community and Building Awareness: Meet the Co-Leads of our Asians@ ERG

Instacart

Instacart

Jul 1, 2021

As Joy Zhu sat in her New Carrots onboarding session, “Taste of Instacart” that covered Employee Resource Groups (ERG) communities at Instacart, she saw an opportunity to create one that was missing: an ERG for the wide range of Asian identities at Instacart.  

“I reached out to the team that oversees diversity, equity and belonging initiatives and asked fellow New Carrots who might be interested in getting an Asian ERG off the ground,” she says. Joy joined forces with her colleagues Mabelle Bong and Jessica Roey to start the ERG—brainstorming, planning, and getting the community on board. “The stars aligned and just a few months later we launched Asians@, the latest Instacart ERG for Asian American, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander, South Asian and anyone with ties to any of the 48 countries in Asia.”

Joy, Mabelle, and Jessica all recognized their shared passion for their culture and desire to create a space for their community within Instacart.. What started with a casual Slack thread culminated in the official launch of the ERG—which coincided perfectly with AANHPI Heritage Month.

Employee co-leads Asians@ Instacart employee resource group
Asian@ Co-Leads Jessica Roey, Mabelle Bong, and Joy Zhu

How we celebrated AANHPI Heritage Month 

During the month of May, Asians@ celebrated AANHPI Heritage Month with a series of virtual events and programming. They kicked things off with a remote launch of the ERG, where Carrots learned about the group and how to get involved. And because May is also Mental Health Month, the group invited April Koh, the CEO of Spring Health, for a fireside chat on overcoming barriers and normalizing mental health. They closed the celebrations with a group meditation led by the Japanese Buddhist Monk, Kuniatsu. “We definitely seized the momentum of AANHPI Heritage Month, Mental Health Awareness Month, and our ERG’s launch—it was a whirlwind to get off the ground with!” Mabelle says. 

Instacart Beets Spotify playlist cover art
Instacart Beets logo created by partners on the Design team

They worked with Instacart’s playlist expert, Erica Kolari, Manager of Shopper Engagement Communications, to curate an Instacart Beets playlist highlighting incredibly talented Asian, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander artists from all over the globe.

The group started out and remains grounded in their core mission: elevating Asian voices. It’s a cause that matters deeply to Joy, Mabelle, and Jessica—here’s a look at why (and how they plan on doing it). 

Finding—and elevating—our AANHPI voices

Though Joy, Jessica, and Mabelle have different reasons for wanting to elevate AANHPI voices at work, they find common ground in wanting to share their experiences with fellow AANHPI community members, educate and engage with allies, and celebrate their heritage. For Joy, who moved to the U.S. from Shanghai at age 10, adapting to new environments is something she’s grown used to—but that has also reinforced the importance of community and amplifying different voices and experiences rather than blending in. “We have so many opportunities to learn from each other, even within our broader AANHPI community—I believe in helping people raise their voices and share their perspectives,” she says. 

Jessica, who’s a first generation Filipino American, has battled with her biracial identity for many years, but has landed in a place of admiration for her mixed culture. “The representation of AANHPI cultures in America has always fascinated me and the beauty of our community never ceases to amaze me,” she says. “What’s more, for me, the recent violence targeting Asian Americans acted as a rallying cry to come together. Though Asians@ was started before the violence broke out, what our community experienced just cemented the need to create a space for those conversations at Instacart.”

Mabelle can relate to Jessica’s battles with her Asian identity: “As a first generation, queer immigrant who grew up in a predominantly white area, my relationship with my Asian identity has always been in flux,” she explains. “Nonetheless, it is a humbling, vast, nuanced, and complex experience to be Asian in America —Asians@ is a space we’ve created to learn about each other and ourselves and embrace the many facets of our identities as an AANHPI community.”

Asians@ and Mental Health Awareness Month

“It felt natural that AANHPI Heritage Month and Mental Health Awareness Month happen at the same time because of everything going on in the world,” Jessica says. Especially because there is a perception that the Asian American community encourages a “heads down” culture, for Asians@, May was an important opportunity to emphasize mental health, community, and unity. “In fact, our first brainstorm about the ERG focused on mental health and stigma,” Joy says. “It’s nice that we were able to launch the group and highlight mental health at the same time,” she adds. 

Mabelle understands the importance of honoring mental health and was excited to share resources and experiences with the broader Instacart community: “I’ve been in therapy for ten years and can’t share its benefits enough,” she says. As an Asian American, mental health has always been a tricky topic for Mabelle. Finding a therapist with whom she could discuss the nuances of her culture and upbringing was so critical to her wellbeing, but also a challenge. “I want to share my story so that others can feel comfortable navigating their own mental health,” she says. 

“I’ve come to realize how important it is to exercise mental health just as much as physical health,” Joy agrees. “Bringing that to the forefront for our deeply impacted community—by past generations and more recent events—has been incredibly meaningful.” 

Because the partnership between AANHPI Heritage Month and Mental Health Month felt so natural, it made sense for the group to invite April Koh, CEO of Spring Health, to join a fireside chat about mental health. “April’s ability to present vulnerability, strength, and leadership as an Asian American woman was inspirational to me—she is an example of showing up as your full, authentic self and being a great leader,” says Mabelle. 

Fireside chat participants, April Koh, Spring Health CEO and Instacart  Director of People Development, Dave Zhou
Spring Health CEO, April Koh speaks with Instacart’s Director of People Development, Dave Zhou

In the fireside chat, April touched on multiple topics, including her own struggles with mental health, which led her to start Spring Health. “I went through what I’ve learned to be a typical journey of trial and error to find something that works for me—it was incredibly lonely and involved lots of guessing,” she explains. So she started Spring Health, which uses data to make mental healthcare more personalized, precise, and successful. Spring Health also works with employers globally to offer mental health solutions for employees, and we’re proud to offer it to Carrots at Instacart. 

Here are a few key takeaways from her fireside chat on how organizations can support AANHPI mental health at work:

  1. The first step to supporting employees’ mental health at work is to acknowledge the issues. “Don’t sweep it under the rug,” April says. “Confront and acknowledge that issues are going on and your employees might be impacted.” 
  2. For April, a recent healing session brought great relief and created a sense of connection. “Joining, or hosting a session where community members are invited to share and reflect is huge,” she says. “In a recent healing session, I had no intention of sharing, but ended up participating in the conversation and I realized how much fear and pain I’ve been carrying—the moment I opened up, I instantly felt lighter. At Spring Health we have a saying, ‘community is the best medicine’—and sometimes, work is the best community people have access to.” 
  3. Create safe spaces by adopting a posture of listening. “Open meetings with a personal question that shows employees it’s not just a transactional exchange,” she says. Asking your teammates how they feel helps create deeper connections and community at work. 
  4. By creating space, you invite yourself to be vulnerable with coworkers, too. “There’s a stigma around asking for help when it comes to mental health for Asian Americans, so it’s especially important for members of the AANHPI community to speak up at work and lead by example,” April explains. “We’re all human, after all.” 

The future of Asians@

As Asians@ grows and welcomes more Carrots, they’ll remain intentional and strategic, focusing on acting as a uniting force for AANHPI Carrots and allies at Instacart. “Our goal for now is to activate conversations across the community so we can understand the needs of Asians@ Carrots, hear their stories, and elevate their voices,” Joy says. Ultimately, Asians@ will become a safe place for people to voice their experiences and opinions, feel welcome, celebrate their identities, and foster unity through shared culture and heritage. Asians@ will partner with the broader Diversity, Equity and Belonging team to drive programming that moves the needle when it comes to engagement and career development throughout the employee experience.

Joy, Mabelle, and Jessica are in the process of selecting leaders for the ERG—the people who will guide Asians@ through the next year. “It’s an exciting time because we are in the nascent stage of the ERG. We’re bringing in so many voices and building a community, creating a new space for people to share the diverse perspectives that continue to make Instacart such a welcoming workplace for everyone,” says Joy. 

Stay tuned to hear more Asians@ voices from our team. 

Interested in learning more about Asians@ or joining the team? We’re hiring! 

You may also like...

Welcome Carolyn Everson to Instacart

Company Updates

Welcome Carolyn Everson to Instacart

We’re excited to announce that consumer technology veteran Carolyn Everson will be joining Instacart as President, beginning September 7. As President, Carolyn will oversee Instacart’s Retail, Business Development and Advertising businesses, as well as the…...

Aug 4, 2021
Excited to Join the Instacart Table

Company Updates

Excited to Join the Instacart Table

To the Instacart community, This is my first official week as the newly-appointed CEO of Instacart. I’m incredibly excited to get started, and I’ve been spending the past couple of weeks introducing myself to the…...

Aug 2, 2021
Controversial Condiments: A Dip Dive into America’s Love / Hate Relationship with Saucy Spreads

Company Updates

Controversial Condiments: A Dip Dive into America’s Love / Hate Relationship with Saucy Spreads

A BLT without mayo? A Chicago hot dog without mustard?  Fries without ketchup?  No. Thank. You. All too often, these American classics get all the glory on their own, but it’s the condiments that really…...

Aug 2, 2021