The Beloved Community Starts with Uplifting Colleagues, Says EA’s Brian Pang

The Beloved Community Starts with Uplifting Colleagues, Says EA’s Brian Pang

Vancouver is one of the most diverse cities in Canada, but when Brian Pang first immigrated there from Hong Kong, it was a different story.

“I was 16 and arrived in the mid-90s during this huge immigration wave” says Brian, who serves as VP, Operations at Ascend Vancouver. “At the time, Vancouver was not as multicultural compared to Hong Kong so it was a big culture shock for me, and I coped by assimilating to fit in. One of the consequences of this was that I became unaware of unconscious biases that I’d developed and the harm of denouncing my heritage. I didn’t do the work to unlearn them until I entered the workforce.”

Once Brian saw the real life impacts of subliminal and explicit racism, he wanted to be part of solving these issues and progressing the movement towards the beloved community. In addition to serving as Product Director and ERG board advisor at Electronic Arts (EA) and volunteering with Ascend, Brian is also involved with the non-profit organizations ACE Next GenAsian Leaders AllianceStand with Asian Americans, APAs vs Hate, Elimin8hateRacial Equity Screen Office, and Canada SCORES.

His career journey has shown him why it’s so vital to see others like you in the room, especially when you rise to leadership roles. Rather than sending the elevator back down to help others, people can default to operating with a scarcity mindset. “This is somewhat systemic, but also cultural and intergenerational. When positions and opportunities are scarce, there is a tendency to see each other as competition,” says Brian.

To combat this, Brian wants all underrepresented and minority groups to have the mindset of building a larger table. “Once we do that, we can start pulling up more chairs so more underserved people can have seats at that table, and they will in turn pull up others.”

It’s this vision that Brian brings to his role at Ascend Vancouver, where he’s responsible for ensuring the chapter functions efficiently and sustainably in all facets. Part of this work involves looking for ways to partner with other groups to streamline their community efforts, such as with the AAPI Leadership Summit in 2022.

Ascend worked with other nationwide non-profits—The Asian American Foundation, Stand with Asian Americans, Asian Leaders Alliance, and Leadership Education for Asian Pacifics—to convene several hundred community, business, and government leaders at the event. The goal for attendees was to identify a shared vision for the broader AAPI movement and ecosystem, to create lasting change across generations.

“I hope future generations will benefit from the equity and justice work we did. Just as how our previous generations crawled so we could walk, we walked, so our next generations can fly.”

When looking back at his life, Brian says he would tell his younger self to take more risks and never tie his identity to how others perceived him.

“I’d be less of a people pleaser,” he adds. “Corporate America was not set up for us, so we need to push for change instead of perpetuating the model minority myth, stereotypes, and workplace biases. We know that we’re great leaders. We’re very accomplished and creative. We have proven success running our own companies. We are C-suite material. We can do really amazing things when we highlight our own wins and uplift each other. From there, we can accelerate our social justice and equity movement.”