May is widely recognized as Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, a time to celebrate the contributions that AAPIs have made to American history, society and culture. This celebration should go beyond reflecting on the past – it is an opportunity to support this vibrant community while recognizing the vast scope of the AAPI community.


The term AAPI encompasses a very broad spectrum of cultures and experiences, and this term continues to be redefined.

But many people who fall under the AAPI community do not identify with this label. This resonates with me — I have a much stronger affinity to my family’s country of origin. The Philippines is a country comprised of over 7,000 islands, so many members of my family go further and identify with the specific province my ancestors come from, which is geographically closer to Taiwan than the rest of Philippines, more than the country itself.

Growing up in America, I felt that the Asian American title was most often applied to people of East Asian origin, and Pew Research Center found that many people within the AAPI community prefer to identify by their specific country of origin for this reason. Beyond a personal preference, grouping together all AAPI people into one monolith hides the economic disparities and specific challenges facing individual communities.

In 2021, President Biden designated the new title Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) Heritage Month to acknowledge the diversity of this community. While this distinction is still not widely used — the State of California, for example, continues to celebrate AAPI Heritage Month — it is an example of how a deeper understanding of cultures can bring forth changes.

This shift is a testament to the evolving understanding of the cultures and experiences within the AAPI community as the U.S. adopts a deeper commitment to inclusivity. In the same way that the definition of this community is broadening, so too must the concept of allyship evolve to meet these new understandings.


Diversity within the workplace, especially in terms of cultural perspectives, significantly enhances a team’s ability to understand and meet the needs of their diverse client base.

The cultural insights from a diverse group of employees can lead to more nuanced client interactions and tailored service offerings. For example, GHJ Manager Tracy Liang’s background as a Chinese-American woman helped drive her work as part of GHJ’s Entertainment Practice when the entertainment industry saw an influx of Chinese investments in Hollywood.

“Allyship and support from colleagues and leadership are essential for cultivating an inclusive and supportive work environment,” Tracy said. “With GHJ’s supportive and inclusive culture, I feel valued and empowered to thrive professionally and personally.”

When employees feel valued, they are more satisfied, more creative and more likely to take risks to contribute in positive ways. In contrast, employees who feel pressured to assimilate to the norm (which, for people of color, often means hiding a part of their identity to fit in) are likely to experience burnout and dissatisfaction.


At GHJ, the concept of allyship extends beyond simple support; it involves active engagement and a commitment to understanding the diverse experiences of colleagues.

The first step in building that allyship is ensuring everyone is welcome to the table. Having diverse perspectives at the leadership table allows organizations to be more innovative, but it also signals that diversity is valued. When GHJ Manager T.J. Choi joined the firm, he appreciated the strong representation and visibility of AAPI leaders.

"AAPI Heritage Month is significant as it not only educates but also celebrates the rich diversity within our team," T.J. noted. "This approach creates an environment where I, and my AAPI colleagues, feel genuinely valued and understood, without the need for special accommodations. It is encouraging to see that GHJ’s commitment to diversity and inclusion is not just theoretical but implemented in practical, impactful ways."

The key to fostering diversity equity, inclusion and accessibility (DEIA) is to embrace each other’s differences. Inviting an underrepresented voice to speak up can make a big impact in fostering inclusive leadership.

Earlier in her career, GHJ Corporate Tax Leader Nisha Golcha found it intimidating to speak up in professional settings due to her discomfort with the English language. However, she realized that staying silent was a detriment to her career progression.

“I know what to say, but I have to translate it into English and then project confidence that I know what I am talking about, even though I am not speaking my native language. Plus, I talk fast,” Nisha explained. “But if you are not visible, the work you have done will not be appreciated.”

My first job out of college was writing for a business magazine. I covered fleet, a specific segment within the automotive industry where I was often the only woman and only person of color in the room. A pivotal moment in my career development was when the vice president (a white man) called me into his office. He fully acknowledged that my experience may differ from my colleagues, noted specific parts of my job where conflicts about my race or gender may arise and explicitly offered to step in if I was ever made to feel uncomfortable because of these differences. That moment of direct allyship helped me proceed with confidence and allowed me to focus on developing the technical skills that mattered.

Beyond representation, businesses should reevaluate what it means to be a leader to overcome any biases and break down the metaphorical bamboo ceiling, a term used to represent the perceived barriers that prevent Asian Americans from attaining leadership positions.


To continue fostering a genuinely inclusive environment, leaders should take intentional steps towards effective allyship. This includes:

  1. Encouraging and facilitating open discussions about cultural experiences and identities, such as GHJ’s BIPOC Cohort.
  2. Advocating for and participating in mentorship programs that support diverse talent development.
  3. Actively learning about other cultures to build understanding.

These steps help foster a supportive workplace and ensure that everyone — from leadership to new hires — understands and appreciates the diverse cultural dynamics that influence the work done.

Allyship is not a one-time action, it is an ongoing process of learning and fostering an inclusive environment where every voice is heard and valued. The best way to celebrate AAPI Heritage Month is to build allyship with AAPI colleagues and foster an inclusive environment where every voice is heard and valued.

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Roselynne Reyes

Roselynne Reyes has seven years of marketing and communications experience. She enjoys working with subject matter experts to deliver interesting, engaging content.​ At GHJ, Roselynne works with the Firm’s niche leaders to develop relevant articles. She produces GHJ’s Business Disruption and…Learn More