Acknowledging the research
In a recent report, McKinsey & Co. took a closer look at the challenges Asian Americans face in the workplace—and what organizational leaders can do to help. We sifted through the research to pull out key takeaways, insights, and actions that could offer a constructive starting point in addressing challenges in your organization.
At Kantola, we know how important it is to focus on creating a safe and inclusive environment for everyone. One way to do that? Cultivate a learning culture where employees gain insights and understanding about people who are different from themselves.
By nurturing this kind of culture, leaders can help shape a workplace that is free of harassment, and where each employee has a higher sense of purpose and belonging.
Starting with the data
In their report, McKinsey used data and analysis to dispel misconceptions, acknowledge the accomplishments and contributions of Asian Americans, and propose next steps for leaders and organizations. More research needs to be done, but their goal is to spark an expansive, ongoing conversation about better inclusion and advancement for Asian Americans at work. Let’s start by looking at their data:
- Nearly 20 million Asian Americans live in the United States as US-born citizens, naturalized citizens, and foreign-born residents.
- Among Asian American workers, 35 percent are East Asian, 35 percent are Southeast Asian, and 27 percent are South Asian.
According to McKinsey, their wide-ranging distribution across industries and roles underscores the diversity of experiences among Asian American workers.
While they are overrepresented in low-paying occupations such as manicurists and skin care specialists, cooks, and sewing-machine operators, they are also overrepresented in higher-wage technical fields such as software development and computer programming. This large variance of wages between occupation clusters means Asian Americans have the highest income inequality among races in the United States.
Asian Americans have the highest income inequality among races in the United States
Even when Asian Americans are in high-wage fields (those with a median wage above $100,000 a year), they make $0.93 for every dollar earned by their White colleagues. McKinsey found the earnings gap is correlated with Asian American underrepresentation at higher-paying manager levels.
Debunking the myths
McKinsey also found that even with high educational attainment and trending economic mobility, Asian Americans are often seen as doers and not leaders. Advancement “sputters” as Asian Americans move up the corporate ladder, where high levels of representation at the entry level do not translate to high levels in senior management positions. The share of Asian Americans decreases with greater seniority, and so does their share of promotions.
Taking the next steps
Moving forward, McKinsey suggests collecting more data, supporting Asian American workers during critical moments, and taking steps towards creating more inclusive sponsorship opportunities as ways organizations can work towards breaking through these stereotypes.
At Kantola, we believe in treating DEI as a journey that is unique to every company—with multiple paths that require ongoing reinforcement and consistency along the way. Mckinsey’s analysis serves as just one starting point to spur constructive and creative action.