Ideas to Celebrate AAPI Month in the Workplace

The month of May marks Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, a time to honour the rich cultural contributions, histories, and experiences of the AAPI community. For workplaces committed to fostering diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), AAPI Heritage Month presents an opportunity to celebrate, educate, and raise awareness on the experiences and challenges facing this community.

As we’ve continued to emphasize, alongside strategic shifts within organizations, education and training are essential for equipping employees with the necessary tools to become informed allies. Through that educational journey, commemorating significant dates and periods through meaningful events can enhance community engagement. However, it’s also crucial to remind ourselves to move beyond performative gestures and ensure that these events are purposeful and impactful.

In planning events for AAPI Heritage Month, it’s essential to couple celebration with education and awareness. To ensure that these events are more than just token gestures, it’s crucial to have a clear purpose communicated to event attendees. Here are some guidelines to avoid performative events:

Define Objectives: Clearly outline the objectives of each event, whether it’s to celebrate cultural heritage, facilitate cultural exchange, or promote allyship and solidarity.

Provide Context: Offer context about the significance of AAPI Heritage Month, the history of the community in North America, and why it’s important for the workplace to observe it.

Facilitate Dialogue: Create opportunities for open dialogue and reflection during events. Encourage attendees to share their thoughts, ask questions, and engage in constructive conversations about AAPI experiences and perspectives.

Take Action: Beyond the events themselves, encourage attendees to take concrete actions to support AAPI communities, whether it’s through advocacy, donations, or ongoing education and allyship efforts. Provide resources as a follow-up to the event to support their learning.

Here are some meaningful event ideas that can help your workplace commemorate this significant month:

Cultural Showcases

Host a series of cultural showcases featuring traditional music, dance performances, and art exhibitions from various AAPI cultures. Topics to explore could include: Japanese tea ceremonies, Indian classical music, or a virtual museum tour. This not only celebrates the diversity within the AAPI community but also provides attendees with an immersive experience.

Bring in AAPI Perspectives

Organize panel discussions, lunch and learns or workshops led by AAPI professionals, activists, or scholars. Topics could range from the history of AAPI communities in North America, to more recent issues such as anti-Asian racism and allyship.

Supporting AAPI Perspectives in the Workplace

Learn more about the challenges that some AAPI professionals encounter in the workplace, and what organizations can do to create an inclusive culture.

Host Screenings and Book Clubs

Curate a selection of films, series or books that amplifies AAPI voices and narratives. Plan thoughtful questions for discussion to encourage employees to engage with AAPI stories and perspectives on a deeper level, and reflect on how AAPI identities are portrayed in the media.

Community Engagement

Partner with local AAPI organizations or charities to organize community service events. Whether it’s volunteering at a cultural center, fundraising for a cause that supports AAPI communities or distributing gift cards to support local AAPI restaurants for lunch.

Language and Cultural Workshops

Offer language workshops or a hands-on cultural activity workshop. Employees can learn basic phrases in different AAPI languages or gain hands-on experience with cultural crafts and activities such as cooking, henna, calligraphy or lantern making. This fosters understanding and appreciation for the linguistic and cultural diversity within the AAPI community.

By being purposeful and informed in the way we plan AAPI Heritage Month events, workplaces can ensure that their events are not only celebratory but also meaningful and impactful. Let’s seize this opportunity to honour the diversity and resilience of the AAPI community and commit to building a more inclusive and equitable workplace for all.

AAPI Heritage Month Workshops

Explore the themes of DEI within the context of AAPI identities. Gain insights into AAPI perspectives, confront challenges, discuss intersectional identities, and equip your staff with tools for fostering allyship and solidarity.


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