Asian and Pacific Islanders represent over 30 ethnicities encompassing a wide range of diversity in languages, culture, religion and socio-economic status. Over 25,000 JPMorgan Chase employees in the United States self-identify as Asian or Pacific Islander and about 16 % of the company’s employee base are a part of the community.
As JPMorgan Chase grows throughout the Mid-Atlantic region with 140 branches, commercial, business and private banking, it also has put a stake in the ground by supporting our local communities through its $30 billion racial equity commitment.
Last year the firm created The Office of Asian & Pacific Islander Affairs, a new strategic initiative to help advance equity and inclusion for the Asian and Pacific Islander community. We sat down with the new head of this Center of Excellence, Vivian Young, and Washington D.C. Chase Business Banker and immediate-past Chairwoman of the Board from the Asian American Chamber of Commerce, Stephanie Shei to learn more.
Vivian, you were recently appointed the global head of JPMorgan Chase’s Office of Asian and Pacific Islander Affairs. What led you to this role?
Vivian Young: This is a newly created role at JPMorgan Chase. A year ago, I had no idea this job was even an option and it’s the perfect position for me. I was previously the global head of Bank Product Marketing in Asset & Wealth Management but had been deeply involved in diversity initiatives outside my day-to-day role.
Since I joined the firm ten years ago, I’ve held a number of leadership positions across our employee-led Business Resource Groups, most recently serving as Co-Chair of AsPIRE (Asians & Pacific Islanders Reaching for Excellence) and Professional Development Co-Chair of Women on the Move. Being part of these group’s internal leadership teams prepared me for this role. I formed a solid network of leaders across various lines of business who are equally committed to diversity, equity and inclusion. Ultimately, I leveraged this network to help me develop a strategy which delivers on our commitment to drive progress and opportunity for Asian and Pacific Islander employees, customers, clients and communities.
What are your key priorities for the Office, particularly as it relates to the business community?
VY: JPMorgan Chase has long been committed to advancing equity and inclusion for the Asian and Pacific Islander community globally. Now, we have a more dedicated focus on supporting entrepreneurs in growing their businesses through financial education and coaching. Our local Business Bankers, such as Stephanie Shei, are always available to provide business checkups because education is the key to success. In addition to supporting our clients with tools to build their financial future, we understand it’s just as important to lift up our employees.
The firm is taking a holistic approach by equipping our employees with mentorship and resources to grow professionally and personally. In addition, we understand it’s important to deepen our engagement with local communities and advocacy organizations, such as the Asian American Chamber.
Asian and Pacific Islander-owned small businesses have been hit extremely hard by the pandemic and continue to face anti-Asian hate on a daily basis. What resources would you recommend to business owners looking for support?
Stephanie Shei: The rise in anti-Asian discrimination across the world and here in the DMV breaks my heart. In addition, income inequality is rising rapidly among Asian Americans in the United States because of it. It’s important to raise awareness about cultural identity and the unique challenges faced by the Asian and Pacific Islander business community. Too many of us don’t speak out and that is part of the problem for why this hatred keeps happening. We need to join forces and speak up when incidents happen so they can stop.
VY: For members of our communities facing hate or discrimination, there are many resources online such as www.aapihatecrimes.org and www.stopaapihate.org where people can report hate crime incidents and get support.
How can we better help the Asian and Pacific Islander business community thrive and create greater wealth?
SS: At JPMorgan Chase, we support business owners through education, coaching and banking solutions. Many Asian immigrants have a language barrier, and don’t understand the US financial industry. When I moved here from Taiwan in my late 20s, I had a good job, but couldn’t get a car loan because I didn’t have any credit. In Taiwan, a credit score is not needed as it is in the US. I also didn’t understand what it was or how to get one. The only way I was able to purchase a car was to ask my friend to be a guarantor on my loan.
Now as a Business Banker I see so many successful entrepreneurs who have immigrated to the US and are running successful cash businesses. Except they don’t understand the need for credit or how the US banking system works, therefore they find it difficult to obtain capital. It’s my job to take the time to sit down and speak with them to provide the proper educational tools so they can thrive.
May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. What does this month represent to you?
SS: I am proud to be an Asian American and appreciate all the opportunities that have come my way in my life and career. However, every month should be our heritage month. I volunteer at the Asian American Chamber of Commerce and work with many local business leaders who have influenced the history, culture, and achievements of this community.
Mr. Vance Zavela inspires me the most. Mr. Zavela has dedicated over 10 years to volunteering at the Asian American Chamber of Commerce and advocates for minorities. He worked diligently to put Asian, Black, and Hispanic chambers in alliance and collaborate each other.
VY: I agree with Stephanie, my role wouldn’t exist if we only focused on supporting the Asian and Pacific Islander community once a year. However, I think it’s important for us to have dedicated moments in time to celebrate different cultures. May is a month for others to reflect and acknowledge our continued challenges. By shining a light on racism, and offering solutions and support to our communities, we will prevail. While we cannot solve for hate, what we can do is come together as a global community to be empathetic and supportive, protect each other and help expose injustice against any group.