Study Finds Asians Occupying Few Corner Offices
Despite an outsized share of Ivy League degrees, Asian-Americans are underrepresented in executive suites, according to a study expected to be released Monday.
Roughly 5% of U.S. residents identify themselves as Asian, but less than 2% of executive roles at Fortune 500 companies are held by Asian-American professionals, according to the report from the Center for Work-Life Policy, a New York-based nonprofit think tank.
Only eight Asian professionals currently lead Fortune 500 companies, including Vikram Pandit at Citigroup Inc. and Andrea Jung at Avon Products Inc. Yet Asians often hit the work force with highly coveted degrees. Asians and Asian Americans comprise 16% of undergraduates in the Ivy League, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, and 35% of undergraduates at University of California at Berkeley, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Stanford University.
The Center for Work-Life Policy's report surveyed 2,952 respondents of all ethnicities, including Asian-Americans (half born in the U.S.), and included follow-up interviews with respondents and with a number of companies that are building career development initiatives for Asian employees.
One-quarter of Asian respondents said they face work-place discrimination, while only 4% of Caucasians believe Asians are treated unfairly on the job, according to the report.
To date, few companies have had career development programs for Asian employees because they are seen as a 'model minority,' according to the report. Ripa Rashid, one of the report's co-authors said that the survey reveals something that she hears often from workers and managers: Asian-American employees are culturally uncomfortable with the type of swagger and self-promotion that often spells success in U.S. firms. 'They just put their heads down and work and believe that's all it takes to get to the top,' Ms. Rashid said.
The study also showed that Asian employees may be less comfortable sharing their personal lives with coworkers and less likely to enlist more senior coworkers as mentors or sponsors.
Merck & Co. started a program dubbed 'the Art of Cultural Fluency' to help Asian employees fine-tune soft skills like presentation. 'The ah-ha [moment] came quite a few years ago when we knew we needed a bold plan,' said Deborah Dagit, the pharmaceutical giant's chief diversity officer. At the end of 2009, 6% of the U.S. work force at Merck claimed Asian heritage, but that demographic comprised only 4% of the company's executives and senior managers.
In early 2010, AllianceBernstein started twice monthly voluntary seminars for its Asian employees with Toastmasters, a nonprofit public-speaking organization. The fund management firm now has its own Toastmasters chapters in New York, San Antonio, Texas, and the United Kingdom. 'We didn't want to do a training program, because they tend to be one-size fits all,' said Vicki Walia, director of talent management and diversity at AllianceBernstein.Jane Hyun, a corporate consultant and author of 'Breaking the Bamboo Ceiling,' said Asian-Americans face very subtle but strong cultural barriers at work. 'In Asia, there's a saying that the loudest duck gets shot; in America it's: the squeaky wheel gets the grease,' said Ms. Hyun. 'These things are totally different and at odds with each other.'
Ms. Hyun helped Merck craft its program. Critical to its success, she pointed out, was buy-in from 20 non-Asian senior managers. 'In America, we tend to assume that we should simply treat people the same way,' she said. 'But that's not always the best way to handle very different cultural values.'
紐約非盈利智庫工作-生活政策中心(Center for Work-Life Policy)一份報告顯示，大約5%的美國居民將自己認定為亞裔，但財富500強公司管理職位中，由亞裔美國人士擔任的不到2%。
只 有八位亞裔人士目前為財富500強公司一把手，其中包括花旗集團(Citigroup Inc.)的潘偉迪(Vikram Pandit)和雅芳(Avon Products Inc.)的鐘彬嫻(Andrea Jung)。但亞裔常常是拿著很多人夢寐以求的文憑進入職場的。據全國教育統計中心(National Center for Education Statistics)數據，亞洲人和亞裔美國人佔常春籐盟校本科生的16%，佔加州大學伯克林分校(University of California at Berkeley)、麻省理工學院(Massachusetts Institute of Technology)和斯坦福大學(Stanford University)本科生的35%。
報 告顯示，迄今為止，還很少有公司因為亞裔被視為“模范少數族裔”而為亞裔員工建立職業發展規劃。報告作者之一拉希德(Ripa Rashid)說，這次調查揭示了她常從員工和管理者那裡聽來的一些東西：在美國公司裡常常帶來成功的那種高調和自夸，亞裔美國人由於文化上的原因並不擅 長。拉希德說，他們只管埋頭苦幹，以為就這樣就能做到高層。
制 藥巨頭默克公司(Merck & Co.)啟動了一個名為“精通文化之藝術”的計劃，來幫助亞裔員工改善他們的軟技能，比如怎樣做演示報告。默克公司的文化多樣性負責人達吉特 (Deborah Dagit)說，幾年前知道自己需要的是一個大膽計劃時，我們恍然大悟。2009年年底，默克公司在美國的員工有6%聲稱自己為亞裔，但在該公司的高管當 中，這個族裔只佔4%。
從2010年年初開始，基金管理公司聯博(AllianceBernstein)讓非盈利演說組織 Toastmasters來為其亞裔員工舉行每月兩次的自願性學習班。聯博目前在紐約、聖安東尼奧、得克薩斯和英國都開有Toastmasters的學習 班。該公司負責人才管理和多元文化的瓦利亞(Vicki Walia)說，我們不想把它做成一個培訓項目，因為培訓項目往往是一刀切。企業顧問、《打破竹子天花板》(Breaking the Bamboo Ceiling)一書作者Jane Hyun說，亞裔美國人在工作中面臨著十分微妙但又很強大的文化屏障。她說，亞洲有一種說法是最吵的鴨子挨槍子，而在美國則是會哭的孩子有奶吃；這些事情 完全相反，相互矛盾。
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