When Denver’s Black Professional Alliance capped off its Black History Month with a speakeasy-themed happy hour, Aarthi Ramesh did more than just enjoy the celebration.
She got inspired.
“I just loved the emotion they provided during that event,” said Ramesh, a Tech Ops instruction designer at Viasat Denver. “It made me think about the fact that I come from a part of the world where we also have a rich culture, and I would certainly like to share that.”
Meanwhile, at the company’s headquarters in Carlsbad, CA, a small group of employees had a similar revelation. A few of them who hail from South Asia held a lunch last October to celebrate the Festival of Lights, or Diwali – a five-day celebration that originated in India.
Together, the employees in Denver and Carlsbad started Viasat’s newest employee resource group (or ERG): the South Asian Alliance. The group celebrates and shares the culture of the eight countries in South Asia.
Both ERGs held their debut events May 9, during Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. Both events centered around Indian food and South Asian décor, and featured giveaways, a speaker and screens broadcasting videos about the South Asian countries. In addition, attendees on both campuses contributed to a fundraiser for the victims of the Easter Sunday Sri Lanka bombings.
Carlsbad developer Mini Pilai said ERGs go beyond just support and offer professional development and cultural understanding.
“We wanted a platform where we can recognize and celebrate diverse cultures,” Pillai said. “But we also want to help the people in these countries, so we’ve started with this fundraiser for Sri Lanka.
The South Asian countries represented include:
Group members welcome participants from other South Asian countries and, as with all ERGs, anyone who’s interested can join.
For new employees from South Asia, the Alliance is also a way to connect with someone from their home culture.
“I had a new college grad from the D.C. area whose parents are from India. He wanted to know where he could get some good Indian food,” said Viasat Carlsbad IT Professional Sam Angappan. “He was also asking how he could find a roommate from the same region.”
Angappan said the group can also serve as a source of information for how to work with other cultures.
“If you are managing or working with someone from India, for example, understanding cultural differences in communication styles will help,” he said.
A group with a global focus dovetails with Viasat’s continuing expansion into new countries.
“Because our business is growing all across the world now, there’s value in getting to know the cultures of different parts of the world,” said Denver engineer Uday Sorte.
The South Asian Alliance joins the already existing Black Professional, Veterans, Hispanic/Latino Leadership, Women in Technology, Pride, Next Gen and Ability alliances.