Earlier this year, Asian Pacific Americans at Caltech (APACT) became the Institute's first employee resource group—an officially recognized employee-led group organized around shared interests or experiences.
APACT is focused on promoting professional development; education, advocacy, and awareness; affinity and belonging; community outreach; and celebration of Asian American and Pacific Islander heritage among staff, faculty, and postdocs.
"I wanted to create a space for us to empower and support one another in reaching our goals, whether those are life goals or career advancement goals," says Nicole Williams, APACT chair and assistant director for advancement and information services.
The Institute's Human Resources department says APACT could also serve as a model for other members of the Caltech community who are interested in forming an employee resource group (ERG).
"These groups can help people find colleagues who have common needs or interests," explains Priscilla Gubatan, lead education consultant for staff education and career development. "They can help individuals find a community. They also give the Institute an opportunity to learn what needs exist so that we can inform and improve policy and practice."
In collaboration with the Equity and Title IX Office and the Caltech Center for Inclusion and Diversity, Human Resources has developed a toolkit for creating ERGs. The initiative is part of broader efforts to cultivate a more diverse and inclusive campus environment.
Like APACT, employee resource groups can be based on shared racial, ethnic, or cultural heritage. They can also be organized around common experiences, such as parenting or caregiving. Individuals interested in starting an ERG can receive support in developing a mission and strategic plan, and, once formed, ERGs are eligible to reserve campus meeting spaces, promote events in Institute newsletters, and apply for funding to support programming, among other benefits.
For Williams, what eventually became APACT initially grew out of efforts to find Asian women mentors in the development field. As the group's scope has expanded, members have seized opportunities to strengthen connections with colleagues and counterparts at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Pasadena City College as well as with Caltech's student affinity group APIDA+ (Asian Pacific Islander and Desi American Plus). In May, APACT hosted a book talk, virtual boba demonstration, and other events as part of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, and recently launched what will become a monthly series of brown-bag lunch conversations on topics in the news.
"We all felt the need for community," Williams says. "My vision for APACT is really one of bridging communities and facilitating open discussion."
For more information on employee resource groups, email CaltechXperience@caltech.edu.
For more information on APACT, email firstname.lastname@example.org.