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FleishmanHillard Partners With Ascend to Fight for AAPI Inclusion

November 8, 2021

This past March we saw the xenophobia and bigotry exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic come to a deadly and tragic head when a man in the Atlanta area murdered eight people, six of whom were women of Asian descent. This horrific attack came during a time of increased reports of anti-Asian racism and violence as we continued to grapple with the pandemic. Following this violence, companies, politicians, advocates and thought leaders called for support of the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community, with many issuing statements condemning anti-Asian hate. This incident brought the festering racism directed toward the AAPI community to the forefront, increasing media coverage and interest in AAPI issues. 

Members of the AAPI community experienced a number of emotions following the shootings in Georgia — heart-wrenching sadness, furious anger — but also a sense of helplessness. So, when the opportunity arose for FH4Inclusion and True MOSAIC to work with Ascend, the largest nonprofit Pan-Asian organization for business professionals in North America, many colleagues and I immediately raised our hands and volunteered our time. From fellows to senior vice presidents, counselors across our offices in San Francisco, Chicago, Detroit, Boston, New York and more wanted to help. In addition to counseling Ascend on its overall messaging and branding at a time when the organization was receiving heightened media interest, we came together to provide traditional media relations support for two of Ascend’s key initiatives. 

To raise awareness of the history and prevalence of anti-Asian racism, Ascend created the Impact Fund. We developed the launch strategy and press materials in collaboration with the six inaugural Fund donors to introduce the program that will expand advocacy, allyship, education and community engagement to create sustainable change.

A graphic describing the Ascend Impact Fund, which was developed to put a stop to hate crimes against AAPI persons.

In order to increase the representation of AAPI leaders on Fortune 1000 boards to 10% by 2025, Ascend also launched the 10X25 Initiative. Our team worked closely with Ascend to plan out the timeline and amplify this announcement through traditional media relations and social media, which included developing a media kit partners could use to promote it. At launch, the initiative was shared by several notable partners, raising awareness and encouraging other companies and organizations to commit to this goal. We also made recommendations to Ascend on the layout of the 10X25 Initiative landing page to increase website traffic from media, partners and supporters, as well as advised on how to create a consistent cadence of communication in order to keep the spotlight on this goal through 2025.

A graphic explaining Ascend's 10x25 Initiative, which aims to increase the number of AAPI persons on company boards by 2025.

“It was an honor to work with Ascend and be a part of their larger mission to uplift the AAPI community. I’m incredibly proud of the work FleishmanHillard was able to do for such an important organization and grateful for the learning opportunities that came with this partnership.” Natalie Johnson, FH4Inclusion San Francisco team member and senior account executive 

As our country continues to reckon with and address racial and structural inequities, FleishmanHillard’s work with Ascend to drive action about AAPI representation is more important than ever.