RALIANCE Reading: Stories of AAPI People in the Workplace

Group of Asian workplace professionals having a discussion while walking toward camera.

May is Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month. AAPI is an umbrella term that broadly encompasses a diverse and growing population in the United States with cultural ties to the Asian continent—including East, Southeast, and South Asia—Hawaii, Guam, Samoa, or other Pacific Islands.

In this blog, RALIANCE wanted to share some articles themed around the experiences of what it’s like to be AAPI in the workplace; stories around heritage, discrimination and inclusion:

Research: How Anti-Asian Racism Has Manifested at Work in the Pandemic (Harvard Business Review) – There is a misconception that Asian people are model minorities and may not face oppression and racism like Black and Brown people. Academics Jennifer Kim and Zhida Shang spent three months interviewing 35 AAPI professionals across finance, health care, technology and education to learn how anti-Asian sentiments manifest in the workplace. They learned that prejudice is certainly present even if it doesn’t look the same as it does for other marginalized groups. In this article, Kim and Shang walk through their survey results and how the AAPI community and its allies can address the behaviors.

Q&A with Cultural Programming Manager & Leadership Educator Kalei ʻUwēko ʻolani (Stories from Hilton Blog) – In this blog, Grand Wailea Maui’s cultural programming manager & leadership educator, Kalei ʻUwēko ʻolani, discussed how she shares Hawaiian heritage with the resort’s guests. For example, early in the morning, she may lead a traditional chant to greet the day. “I am passionate about my culture and seek to explore opportunities to make the passion, drive and creative ideas I have into a reality,” she said to the Hilton Blog. “My favorite reactions are those speechless and awe moments.”

Ellen Pao on What Asian American Women Need from Workplaces (Time) – In this article, Ellen Pao, former CEO of Reddit, along with three other AAPI women, discuss what they really need from their workplaces. Pao shared how her previous supervisor perceived her as a ‘tiger mom’ who could get things done, but continuously passed her over for promotions. Mythili Sankaran, CEO and co-founder of Neythri, a professional networking organization for South Asian women, spoke to the value of sponsorships, a relationship-building tool in workplaces that tends to provide more accountability than mentorships. The article is filled with gems that help illustrate the obstacles AAPI women face at work and how employers can do better.

Asian American and Pacific Islander women face a $267,760 lifetime salary shortfall due to the pay gap (CNBC) – Unfortunately, AAPI women have to work fifteen months to earn the same as a white man would in a year. Not only is this a stark reality, but Jasmine Tucker, the National Women’s Law Center’s director of research said the truth is, “[An AAPI woman] is never, ever going to catch up.” In this brief article, Tucker goes into more detail and shares the systemic issues preventing certain groups from being paid fairly.  

RALIANCE is a trusted adviser for organizations committed to building cultures that are safe, equitable, and respectful. RALIANCE offers unparalleled expertise in serving survivors of sexual harassment, misconduct, and abuse which drives our mission to help organizations across sectors create inclusive environments for all. For more information, please visit www.RALIANCE.org.


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