The tension between Asian American culture and Corporate America

Asian Americans are a forgotten minority in the Glass Ceiling conversations, leading to a widening gap in leadership representation.

In America, Asian Americans are not considered an underrepresented minority because Asians make up 13% of the US professional workforce but 6% of the US Population, and therefore have little priority and attention in diversity programs. (PEW)

Asian American professionals are the least likely to be promoted from individual contributor roles into management; less likely than any other race including Black and Hispanic. (HBR)

We must consider the impact of both Internal and External forces that contribute to this phenomenon.  

Internal Forces: Cultured Beliefs

Many Asian Americans were raised with a strongly held set of beliefs and verbal advice in order to achieve ‘success’ in school and the professional world. Teachings include: work hard, score the highest points available, keep your head down, listen to teachers/bosses. Where this falls short is that it does not help a person move up the occupational hierarchy past the mid-career level. This results in a shortage of role models in leadership, executive and board roles.

External Forces: Biases & Stereotypes

Biases such as the “Model Minority” give a false sense of success and therefore Asian Americans are kept out of company efforts to build Minority Leaders. Western leaders expect Asian Americans to be quiet, consensus-builders who are content to work hard. These stereotypes are good for entry level positions, yet unfit for leadership. Despite some progress, outright Racism & Sexism persist. Women are assumed to be younger and submissive, thus not ready for promotion. They also suffer a double bind: Too strong (tiger mom) or not strong enough (geisha girl).

Asian Americans Expect Merit & Hard Work to be recognized with Promotions

Cultural Upbringing Causes Common Misperceptions about Behavioral Intent

Do any of these ring true for you? If you’re ready to take your career to the next level but need help clarifying your roadblocks and want an action plan, the RISEx program is for you.

Cindy Halvorsen

Cindy Halvorsen

The Leadership Coach for Asian Americans.
I'll help you reach the level of success you deserve and desire.

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