In this post, we want to explore the prospects of the Asian community in America, specially focusing on whether Asian American women are reaching their potential as leaders in corporate America. If not, are policies needed to unleash the potential of this growing demographic, or are there other inhibitors that can’t be legislated against? These are all questions which beg answers.
We find that, as indicated in the pie chart below, as of July 2013, 5.3% of America is of Asian origin.
Some Interesting Facts about Asians in America:
Many Asian countries emphasize science and technical education, medicine and more recently computer programming, to be followed by management education to fuel their high ambitions. Their work ethic and perseverance makes them successful, and they are considered an essential talent pool for America. To date, this hasn’t translated into leadership positions, except for a few well-known names like Indra Nooyi. But their visible success has excluded them from inclusive practices like affirmative action. This is not a recent phenomenon. New York Times asked in 2012, if Asians were too smart for their own good, thus losing out on opportunities they truly deserved.
With all the high acclaim the Asian American communities generally receive for their technical skills, we see very few of them reaching positions of leadership, unless they are at the helm of their own entrepreneurial ventures. The balance at Microsoft may have tipped a little bit, though, with the recent elevation of Satya Nadella, since Time published these numbers, but all of these ratios demonstrate that Asians struggle to break through the ‘bamboo ceiling’. Most Asians have been unable to reach top leadership positions at U.S. companies, with just 1.5% of them holding leadership positions in Fortune 500 companies
This disparity is much higher when we consider Asian women in leadership roles. Of the 1.5 million businesses owned by Asians in 2012, Asian women owned 620,300, reflecting a 156% growth since 1997. That represents 6.7% of all women-owned firms across the country, with total revenues of $105 billion. But, 82.5% of these firms are non-employers, while the rest of them employ 649,000 workers.
Apparently, hiring or promoting Asians and Asian-Americans is not counted as encouraging diversity even though it helps improve one’s diversity rating. Their exclusion from diversity and inclusion in leadership and non-tech sectors is not recognized by many corporates as the exclusion of a significant segment of their own markets.
In the ultimate analysis, diversity and inclusion are not about offering benefits which someone does not deserve. It is about offering the same opportunities to someone irrespective of their ethnicity, gender or other attributes. Let us hope to see Asian women gain the opportunities they fully deserve and feel encouraged to come forward and give free reign to their aspirations and abilities.
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