The Strength of Diversity: Asian-American Leadership
Sometimes it isn’t easy to believe that in 2021 we are still having pointed conversations about diversity and inclusion. While most professionals are familiar with these terms, diversity and inclusion relate mostly to women or persons of color. Recently, the media has highlighted issues surrounding Asian-Americans and the often-overlooked racial biases against them.
The “Model Minority”
Though Asian-Americans have been labeled by some as the “model minority” because of the stereotype for being hard-working and prosperous, Asian-Americans, specifically Eastern Asian-Americans (hailing from Korea, Japan, and China), are often overlooked when it comes to leadership positions. According to Bloomberg, all Asian-Americans represent only 27% of the working class in the U.S (and 5.7% of the overall population), with an even smaller percentage represented in Management and Executive positions. The Equal Opportunity Employment Commission reports that only 2% of Fortune 500 Companies have an Asian-American as their CEO. Among members of Boards of Directors in the U.S., only 2.6% of seats are held by Asian-Americans.
The Bamboo Ceiling
We must ask ourselves why? There is certainly a disparity between the “ideal candidate” for leadership roles in Western culture versus their Eastern counterparts. Most Asian-Americans are taught to value humility and to defer to authority from a young age. In contrast, Western culture teaches that being assertive and direct is the best way to rise to the top. Despite the higher education and other training qualifications of Asian-Americans, the EEOC’s analysis of national workforce data suggests that they are the least likely than other groups to be promoted into management and executive positions. This has created what is being called the “Asian Leadership Gap” or the “Bamboo Ceiling.”
The Benefit of Being Bi-Cultural or Multi-Cultural
However, Asian-Americans possess unique factors that contribute to their successes in leadership positions. Whether they were raised with traditional Western views or not, they most likely have had to navigate life with a bicultural approach at some point. Being Bicultural enables them to:
- Adapt to change more readily
- Exercise more self-control and discipline
- Respect those who lead
- Have a greater sense for accuracy and detail
- Develop a strong sense of teamwork
- Be spurred by an intense drive to achieve
The Bottom Line
The realism here is that organizations need to become more cognizant of the lack of representation of Asian-Americans in leadership roles for true diversity and inclusion to exist. Asian diversity programs tend toward cultural understanding and inclusion rather than focusing on how leadership can be effective with different perspectives. This cycle can only be broken with increased awareness of its existence so that companies and consultants can address the gap in diversity and inclusion programs.
Companies such as Pinsight focus on diversity and inclusion by removing any potential biases that may be present with data-based decision making. Often, we operate with unintended biases based on our own experiences and interactions.
Contact Pinsight to learn how your organization can ensure they’re making talent decisions that are fair and inclusive and are based on merit.‹ Previous PostNext Post ›