The newest Employee Resource Group (ERG) serves as a support network, an educational resource, and a safe space for international employees at DMC.
What is an ERG?
ERGs are voluntary, employee-led groups whose aim is to foster a diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace. Created by DMC employees who share a minority identity, they provide support in personal or career development and a safe community where employees can bring their whole selves to the table.
Since the concept was born, DMCers have formed seven ERGs covering the following topics: Disabilities, Working Parents, Women of Color, Moms, Queer, Minority Genders at DMC, and now, International Employees.
The IERG is Born
While attending the San Diego Yearly Office Event (YOE) this past October, many DMCers from different offices met others for the first time in-person. This was true for Tikhon (T) Pachin, software engineer based in Chicago, and Debbie Leung, systems engineer based in New York. After conversing and finding they were both internationals, they decided to start the International Employee Resource Group (IERG).
“I had the thought of starting an ERG for a while after hearing about the concept, but I never really had the opportunity to talk with someone. When I heard T was an international, I thought maybe I could collaborate,” Debbie said. “I think finding someone to start the ERG with was instrumental for me. I wouldn’t have been able to start it off or know what to do alone because I didn’t know how many internationals there were or whether this would be a good initiative to start at DMC. Knowing that there is an international population and there is a need for that motivated me to push this forward.”
The Mission of the IERG
As co-leaders, they each bring different interpersonal skills to complement one another, according to T. Starting this ERG allows them to provide more resources for internationals to have a safe space to ask questions.
“I love the culture here at DMC – though, I didn’t feel I had a safe space to discuss certain international questions. I did not know if it was just me or more people felt that way,” T said. “Debbie and I talked about it, and we looked at the Queer ERG. It seemed like a safe space for people who wanted to have a safe space. [Since starting the IERG], we started to have a bigger voice here in the company.”
The IERG serves the purpose of giving internationals a bigger voice, similar to other ERGs, because internationals are a minority group at DMC.
“Building this community and support network where we can all lean against one another for support in navigating through the different challenges in the United States that we face as internationals: that’s the whole point of the IERG,” Debbie said. “One facet is to provide support within our own community to one another.”
T says he feels this support has been a great resource for himself.
“This ERG is not necessarily for immigrational purposes. It’s mostly for educational purposes for both immigrants and nonimmigrants,” T said. “For example, I had no idea how to do taxes when I came to the U.S., and I had no idea how to get a driver’s license in the U.S. I knew one other international had already gone through those processes, and I asked them. The only reason I knew this was through the ERG.”
While the IERG is a resource for internationals at DMC, the hope is for it to also be a resource for the company. As DMC continues growing their client base and working with companies from all over the world, Debbie says that another facet of the IERG is to raise awareness at DMC about international cultural differences, which are important to be cognizant of when interacting with international clients.
“DMC values diversity and recruiting internationals is part of building that diversity,” Debbie said. “Hopefully, with our knowledge – being internationals, having lived in other countries – we can provide insights into what the proper etiquette is when interacting with clients from different cultures. Another way internationals could contribute to client work is bridging the language gap between DMC engineers and international contractors. As an example, I was involved in a project that worked with a Chinese contractor where I played the role as the translator.”
The IERG Welcomes All
DMC values their international employees as part of its diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace. The IERG gives international employees a safe space to connect with and learn from others, but it is not exclusive to international employees. Anyone interested is encouraged to join the group!
“We welcome everybody, though some of our content might be targeted at internationals specifically,” Debbie said. “While we do talk about issues that internationals face, which may not apply to everyone, we also cover other cultural topics. So if you’re interested in learning about international cultures or simply making international friends, we welcome you to join!”
The IERG holds their meetings on the first Friday of every month with a structured schedule.
“Our meetings generally start off with an ice breaker question that involves something international. We’ve had questions like what is your favorite place to travel in the world? Then, we have a presentation prepared by one or two people in the ERG on an international-related topic such as OPT, followed by a Q&A,” Debbie said. “In the next segment of the meeting, we talk about Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) for our Monthly Company Meeting (MCM) presentations and Activity Fund events we can do as an IERG or as a company using the OneDMC Fund. Again, there are two facets of the mission of the IERG—to provide a support network and community within the group as well as to contribute to the company. So our meetings reflect that.”
The ERG also talks about other international-related topics that could be helpful to people who are simply interested in international culture, work abroad, or how they can help; therefore, all DMCers who are interested are welcome to join. On the contrary, there is also no pressure.
“If you don’t wish to be identified as an international, even by internationals, you don’t have to join,” T said. “We don’t know who our internationals are, and not all people in the ERG are internationals.”
Take Initiative at DMC
In addition to DMC’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Initiatives, one of DMC’s Core Values is Make Things Happen.
“The biggest thing I enjoy about DMC is the freedom of initiative because very few companies, if any, would allow me to start an International ERG on the level that DMC allows it,” T said. “Here, I can be heard.”
Everyone at DMC is empowered and expected to independently accomplish tasks for the benefit of DMC and our customers. The freedom to create an ERG is one way employees can take initiative.
“I really like that T and I can just take charge in starting something up even though we are just junior engineers,” Debbie said. “There is a platform and a channel for us to be able to do that. Starting the idea for ERGs was a great initiative.”
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