Asian report employees feeling the least included of all demographic groups in the workplace, new research from Bain & Co. found.
Only 16% of Asian men and 20% of Asian women said they felt fully included at work. These percentages were below the third-lowest group, Black women, at 22%, according to a Bain survey of 10,000 individuals across industries and demographic backgrounds in seven countries and at all levels of seniority.
“In this context, it is hard not to view Asian experience in the workplace in a new light,” Bain partners Karthik Venkataraman and Pam Yee wrote.
The Bain research underscores the challenges Asian Americans face at work, particularly in light of ongoing anti-Asian hate and violence.
Asian workers are more likely than any other major racial or ethnic group to hold a professional or managerial job in the Standard & Poor’s 100, fueling the perception that they encounter few obstacles on the corporate ladder, a USA TODAY analysis found. But they are scarce in the senior-most executive ranks of these companies in a phenomenon sometimes called “the bamboo ceiling.”
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Among the professional and management ranks of the nation’s top companies, 1 in every 45 white men and 1 in every 60 white women are executives. For Asian managers and professionals, only 1 in every 96 men and 1 in every 124 women hold a top job, according to federal workforce records USA TODAY obtained from 88 companies in the S&P 100.
Research shows that the upward mobility of Asian workers, especially women, can be derailed by harmful stereotypes and racist tropes. Asian workers often are passed over for promotions, excluded from professional networks and have few if any role models. And they are widely considered capable and smart in supporting roles but too deferential and submissive to run lines of business or entire organizations.
Asian women are more deeply affected than men. They are half as likely as their white female counterparts to hold an executive role, according to reports reviewed by USA TODAY known as EEO-1s, which break down the race and gender of a company’s workforce by job categories but are not released to the public .
The disparity is on par with statistics for Black and Hispanic women, USA TODAY found.
“The facts on the ground, as opposed to widespread assumptions and stereotypes, clearly demonstrate that US companies need to start paying attention to inclusion and belonging for Asian American employees – our own organization included,” Bain partners Venkataraman and Yee wrote.
They recommended taking into account cultural differences when building recruiting, promotions and performance systems to nurture a sense of belonging for Asian Americans.
In the Bain survey, part of a report on how to create an inclusive work culture, LGBTQ women reported feeling the most included at 29% followed by Hispanic women at 26%.
The survey also showed that feeling excluded is a common feeling. Some 70% of employees, including straight white men and women, don’t feel fully included at work.