In the spotlight of ACA International members this week, Henry Brownson, trainer at CBE Companies Inc., reflects on his South Korean heritage and how his work at CBE Companies has raised awareness of culture, diversity and inclusion. while Asian / Pacific American Heritage Month (APAHM).
New employment trends in the accounts receivable management (ARM) industry reflect an increasingly diverse workforce as more women and people of diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds have started to work as bill collectors in recent years.
In 2020, Asian workers made up 2.1% of all collectors and 6.4% of the total American workforce. There were approximately 2,058 Asian collectors in the ARM industry, according to a study by Kaulkin Ginsberg and ACA.
As such, the ARM industry still has room for improvement, although it is already very diverse.
APAHM is recognized in May. It was born by proclamations in Congress in 1977/78 to recognize Asian / Pacific American Heritage Week. Eventually, recognition widened and Congress passed a law in 1992 designating May as APAHM on an annual basis.
According to asianpacificheritage.gov, May was chosen to recognize the immigration of the first Japanese to the United States on May 7, 1843 and to mark the anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869.
Here, Brownson shares his thoughts on APAHM and his work in the ARM industry.
Q. What is your family heritage?
A. I was born in South Korea. When my birth mother was 16, she took a bus hundreds of miles to put me up for adoption in Seoul, South Korea. I was placed in a foster family and then adopted at the age of 3 months. My family then moved from South Korea to the United States
Q. What does Asian American Heritage Month mean to you?
A. United States of Asia and the Pacific Heritage Month means a lot to me, especially now as an adult. I can celebrate my legacy and celebrate my birth mother. I can reflect on the difficulty of the decision to place myself for adoption. It also means that my family can celebrate with me. My daughter is Latina and South Korean, and I want her to know how proud I am to be an Asian American and how proud I am of her.
Q. How is your company embracing diversity and inclusion in your team and in the industry this month and year round?
A. I have been working for CBE Companies for a little over two years, and it is like working with a family. Our Diversity & Inclusion Manager has written articles to raise awareness and educate our staff and community about Asian / American Pacific Month. We have also implemented a self-education resource to allow our staff to view a virtual program on culture.
Q. How do you celebrate and honor Asian and Pacific American Heritage Month on a personal and / or corporate level?
A. On a personal level, I am proud of who I am and how far I have come in life. I always strive for success and am very goal oriented which I attribute to my birth mother. As a company, we raise awareness of Asian / Pacific American Heritage Month by sharing the history of culture through different mediums.
Q. Do you have any suggestions for other companies working on education and inclusion programs in the industry?
A. It is important to celebrate the diversity of all cultures. Sometimes we forget how wonderful this country is. We have so much diversity in front of our eyes and sometimes we don’t even know it. It is also important to know and understand where your foundation begins and to be proud of it. It’s easy to forget about diversity, but that’s what makes our riding so great for so many people around the world.
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In the photo above:
Henry Brownson with his adoptive mother in Seoul, South Korea on the day he left South Korea.
Henry Brownson with his adoptive parents in Iowa.