Diversity Network Spotlight: Asian & Allies
In 2008, Travelers created Diversity Networks — voluntary organizations led by employees dedicated to fostering a diverse and inclusive work environment. Open to all employees, the networks help foster the retention, development and success of our employees through networking, mentorship and community volunteer opportunities.
Learning & Development Lead for the Asian & Allies Diversity Network (A&A DN), Susan M., as well as A&A DN member Varsha D. share their stories of moving to the U.S., growing up, and ultimately finding a community at Travelers.
Susan M.’s Story
“I was born in Taiwan and moved to the northeast United States with my parents and two brothers when I was ten years old. My story is similar to many Asians who moved here at a young age. Learning English and a new culture was a challenge for all of us.
Growing up, I was treated differently at school and in public for just looking Asian. Kids would make gestures pulling their eyes back or pretend to “Kung Fu chop” me with made up sounds poking fun. It became easier to blend in with the people around me than to show my Asian-ness. At that age, it was all about figuring out where and how I could belong. Over time, assimilating to the Western culture made it easier to box up my Asian history and put it away.
When I went to California for college, I experienced a huge culture shock. People all around me were minorities made up of many cultures. I began to notice how much my sense of identity had strayed.
I received my nursing degree and later joined Travelers in 1995. When the formal creation of our Diversity Networks was announced, I had the chance to mingle with other Asian colleagues. I started networking, getting involved, and mentoring others. I reconnected with my community and expanded my range of cultural awareness. Through story-telling, I was lucky to create friendships with employees across all of the countries in Asia, not just my own.
The Asian & Allies Diversity Network has allowed me to become a better mentor, it has allowed me to engage, and it has allowed me to be comfortable as an Asian. Finding my story was so important and with the opportunities to connect and share, it gave me back a true sense of belonging. I rediscovered my Asian voice in an unexpected way. Finding your voice is another way of opening yourself up to the world. It creates a ripple effect that inspires and empowers others to do the same.”
Varsha D.’s story
“I moved to the United States from India when I was 11 years old. We were the only Indians on our street and because of that, we were bullied throughout childhood. It wasn’t easy growing up in a place where you don’t look like everyone else.
In my career, I never quite found a place to connect with others like me until I joined the Asian & Allies Diversity Network at Travelers. In 2018, I went to speed networking event hosted by the DN. I enjoyed it and wanted to get more involved. Six months later, I saw that another speed networking event was coming up. I asked if the committee needed help planning, and now I have been on the committee for the past four years.
Joining a Diversity Network has meant getting outside of my comfort zone, gaining courage and finding a community at Travelers. I’ve grown so much, both personally and professionally. I have gotten the chance to meet people from different backgrounds and learn about their cultures, I’ve expanded my career network, improved my public speaking and I’ve been able to meet senior leaders across the company. I think that it’s very important for people to know that Travelers has this opportunity and that they can easily get involved. If you open up the door, it’s up to you how far you’d like to go.”