Employee Highlights: Diversity in Lemon Sky


February 26, 2024

This Month’s Highlights Featuring Our 3D Modeler, VFX Artist, and Project Managers

Author: Sara Pang

As a growing company of over 500 employees, Lemon Sky is no stranger to hiring a melting pot of diverse groups of talented individuals for our studio with over 15% of our employees being international folks from countries like Taiwan, India, Japan, Iran, and Indonesia, to name a few.

Lemon Sky Studios Company Trip 2022, Club Med

Lemon Sky Studios recently held an initiative for three weeks, highlighting diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). Our company-wide goals are to encourage openness among employees and encourage greater teamwork and efficiency through hearing stories from individuals and helping each other overcome potential obstacles – be it cultural, disabilities, and such.

This month, we are highlighting several of our employees who overcome the odds despite physical impairments and break cultural barriers within the workforce. 

*(Names have been altered for privacy)

DIVERSIFYING CULTURES IN THE WORKPLACE

Growing up in Malaysia, Chun Y, a Senior Project and External Resources Manager for Lemon Sky for the past 12 years, found herself being brought up in a unique culture, being born half-Taiwanese and half-Chinese-Malaysian.

Chun Y holding a red cat card with Lemon Sky’s “Make Good Art” sign.

“Growing up in a family that communicated exclusively in Mandarin, my Taiwanese heritage, especially through my mother, played a significant role,” said Chun Y.

“When I started learning Malay in primary school, my mother learned it alongside me. As a child, I experienced playful teasing in both countries about my accent, but now, I’ve fully embraced the Malaysian accent.”

Chun Y said that despite different food preferences, she finds common ground with her colleagues over food like bubble tea.

Chun Y enjoying a chat with her coworkers at Lemon Sky.

“Our workspace is incredibly diverse, with colleagues from all around the world, and we enjoy a harmonious environment,” said Chun Y.

Sach, a Senior Project Manager from Mumbai, India, echoes similar sentiments about his almost decade-long journey of living in Malaysia.

“[Lemon Sky coworkers] used to ask me some questions about Indian customs and habits,” said Sach. “I appreciate this gesture too because it shows that they are genuinely curious.

Sach also adds that being integrated into more diverse circles in Malaysia has allowed him to adjust to his workplace and his time in Malaysia.

“I’ve learned a lot of interesting and funny things that I might have not been aware of if it were not for being around a lot of Chinese-speaking friends,” he laughs.

Sach laughing with his coworkers during a Lemon Sky get-together.

Some of my coworkers here invited me to join them for lunch during the first few days,” said Sach. “During these lunch sessions, quite often they would try to speak in English around the group just so that I didn’t feel left out. 

“Often, they would naturally drift to speaking in Cantonese and then switch to English as soon as they noticed that I was still actively listening and trying to make sense of what they were talking about,” Sach recalls.

“They would also teach me a few interesting Cantonese words in the process,” said Sach. “I soon started hanging out with some of them for dinners and Karaoke sessions. I really appreciate them for making me feel included and making my journey at Lemon Sky so enjoyable.”

OVERCOMING DISABILITIES

Besides being in a diverse workplace ethnically, employees like Chun Y and Sach find themselves navigating their work environments with varying degrees of difficulties while managing their disabilities.

“I discovered my hearing impairment in kindergarten,” said Chun Y. “I remember when I was very young, during thunderstorms, I would only cover one ear, which made my mom jokingly call me ‘silly,’” Chun Y shares. “Growing up with a hearing impairment, sometimes people mistook me for being arrogant because I wouldn’t respond when they called me, but in reality, I just couldn’t hear them,” she continues.

Chun Y recalls finding out she was half deaf after a sequela of epidemic parotitis, or mumps. 

Being half-deaf has caused some setbacks, according to Chun Y, particularly in her role.

“During meetings in a room with background noise and echoes, the sounds tend to blend, making it challenging for me to follow,” she said.

Chun Y says she sometimes can’t discern the direction of sounds and will ask for help to locate her car from the direction of her car alarm.

“To cope, I need to concentrate intensely to catch the keywords in conversations,” Chun Y said. Or, she says that she would “opt for online meetings where I can use headphones to understand the dialogue better.”

When addressing her impairment, Chun Y says she’s not afraid to let people know about it. 

“All you need to do is inform your colleagues about your condition, and you’ll find that they are usually willing to accommodate and be more patient with you. These conversations have led to a better understanding and cooperation in my workplace.”

Sach demonstrates how the colors appear to him on a custom-made memorabilia from his coworkers.

For Sach, who has difficulty recognizing certain shades of color, is humored by some interactions with his colleagues.

“When I tell someone that I’m colorblind, quite often people will ask if I see everything in grayscale,” said Sach.

“Over the years, my friends and colleagues have come to know about it,” said Sach when asked if his coworkers knew of his colorblindness. “There have been times when they have forgotten and then been reminded during the conversation. It leads to them reacting guiltily but it’s kind of funny to me. I think that being colorblind isn’t much of an impairment for me for most practical purposes.” 

Sach laughs, recalling that sometimes he’s input incorrect colors in Excel cells but his peers will ask and clarify with him.

“It hasn’t affected me as such because my work doesn’t need me to judge colors,” he said. “I’ve been lucky enough to work with highly capable/talented people who don’t need my help in judging colors, for sure. If I’m confused, I just ask what color a certain object is.”

Pat shares that he’d rather joke with his friends about his colorblindness to treat it as a “normal thing instead of treating us like something special.”

In his late 20s, Pat, a Key VFX artist, discovered that he was colorblind through some of the conversations he’s had with friends and coworkers.

“I didn’t even realize that I’m colorblind until people told me that certain colors were off,” he shares. “It would be certain things like, I’d say, hey, that chair is green, right? And they’d be like, ‘No, no, it’s yellow’ and I’d be like, ‘Huh? Are you sure?’”

Pat shares that he just wants things to be normalized as his line of work doesn’t directly relate to colors.

“I wouldn’t even describe myself as colorblind,” said Pat. “For my eyes, certain hues affect me like yellow to light green and orange to greenish.” But he adds that he was still able to pass his driving test.

                                         

Yao says being colorblind doesn’t make him any different from anyone else, “we are nothing special.” Yao also comments that color wheels can be good references for those who struggle with color blindness.

Yao, a 3D Modeler, explains a little more about the severity and degree of colorblindness.

“Color blindness does not mean seeing the world in black and white, as it is divided into four major types,” said Yao. “I’m the one protanopia type, where red and green colors appear more subdued. However, when I was a baby to my current age, it didn’t have much of a significant impact on daily life,” he said. “I still can see anything as a “normal” person. Red is red, blue is blue, green is green, yellow is yellow, just with a “bit” subdued color.” Discerning traffic colors is also not an issue for him.

Both Pat and Yao have many workarounds for their day-to-day life, including the assistance of charts while at work. 

“I’ll just bring up the [color chart] and double-check if it’s correct,” said Pat. “Sometimes I will double check with my colleagues to see if everything is in place.”

Yao agrees that there is not much difference in his workflow from everyone else. “Each color has its code number,” he said. Referring to the number can help him when cross-referencing. “If there are any color issues, my lead will inform and correct me before submission.”

He also recommends others who are figuring out if they are color blind to complete Color Blind Tests, like the one by Enchroma, to assess their conditions. 

Regardless of their workarounds, employees like Pat and Chun Y encourage others to be open to having these conversations at their workplaces.

“You should be comfortable with your background,” said Pat. “Get to know everyone of a different race, have fun with them. If you want to, just go around with people and learn who they are and think of them as a person.”

“Regarding impairment, don’t be overly sensitive,” said Chun Y. “Be brave enough to acknowledge your limitations and communicate with others to find a balance for mutual cooperation.”

“If you get along well, the collaboration will naturally last longer,” she advises. “Also, if you have a medical diagnosis, applying for an OKU card in Malaysia can offer you benefits and tax deductions.”

Pat, Chun Y, Sach, and Yao enjoy a cup of coffee at the Lemon Sky pantry.

“Remember, in the workplace, it’s all about ability,” said Chun Y. “Don’t assume everything is discrimination. In reality, everyone is busy with their work, and discriminating against someone doesn’t benefit them. All you need to do is inform your colleagues about your condition, and you’ll find that they are usually willing to accommodate and be more patient with you. These conversations have led to a better understanding and cooperation in my workplace.”

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