May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, and part of DHG’s focus on inclusion and diversity is highlighting the lives of our people. Stephen Kimberlin is a Tax Senior Manager in the DHG Richmond office, and he values the Korean heritage of his mother in addition to the American roots of his father.
In what ways does your family celebrate your Korean heritage?
Growing up in an Asian-American household, I received the best aspects of my mother’s Korean culture and my father’s American culture. The same is true of my wife and her parents. One of the things we celebrated and will celebrate more as my children get older is the Lunar New Year. This is a very traditional New Year holiday based on the Korean lunar calendar. As a family, we gather for a large meal, and older generations of the family will gift cash to children using decorative envelopes to celebrate the upcoming year. Also growing up, my mother placed more emphasis on math and science and less emphasis on exploring the non-academic interests a child may like to develop on his own. For example, while I attended math camps, some of my friends were exploring sports camps. It makes sense that I’m an accountant and my brother is an engineer due to the direction and emphasis on math and science my mother encouraged in us. My father showed us the value of other life experiences like vacationing together as a family and working well with others.
As a young dad, what part of your heritage is important to share with your children as they are growing older?
Growing up, I was friends with many kids from varying backgrounds and ethnicities. Being friends with them helped to create a bigger view of the world for me, and I learned about cultures and traditions that were different from my own. I plan to talk about this with my kids, and I hope they may have the same experience as I did; forming friendships with people of varying heritages, traditions and ethnicities. We all learned from each other and learned to value our unique family heritages. While the Korean culture is part of me and we may be different, we do still have things in common and what brings us together is exploring those differences and commonalities.
Why do you think it’s important for DHG to build awareness and recognize celebration months like this one?
Just as with my friends growing up, recognizing differences in our colleagues opens us up to new life experiences. We learn to appreciate what may be different to us but is meaningful to someone else here at DHG. I think it’s important to learn more about the lives of our colleagues, take an interest, and ask questions. This adds value to all our experiences, especially as we strive to be one team together.
As you meet with clients or visit prospective clients, how is inclusion and diversity an important part of our client experience?
Recently I met with the owner of Sweet Frog through some business contacts I have in the area. While it just so happened that we both share a Korean heritage, we could both really relate to each other due to our common heritage and backgrounds. I also think it’s important to show diversity on our tax team when meeting with clients and interacting together as a team day to day. A lot of our work is technical, but clients enjoy working with us due to our ability to form relationships. It's important to bring different experiences and people to the table to see what personalities may work well with our clients in building a lasting relationship.
Stephen is a DHG Tax Senior Manager in the DHG Richmond office. His clients include manufacturers, distributors, real estate developers and lessors, contractors, automotive dealerships, retailers, restaurants and professional services providers. He is a husband to wife Michelle and father to Liam and Audrey.