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Honoring AAPI Month: The Importance of Fostering Inclusion for the Asian Community

Jasmine Huang, PhD
Thomas Cho

In the United States, May is Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month (AAPI Month), a time to honor the history, culture, and achievements of the AAPI community. With the AAPI community’s long history in the U.S. — the first Filipinos landed in what is now California before the U.S. WAS the U.S. — there’s no shortage of topics to explore this month: the work of activists like Grace Lee Boggs; the past crimes during World Wae II and more recent, abhorrent rise in hate crimes; agenda-setting contemporary art like the book Crying in H Mart and the Oscar-winning Best Picture Everything, Everywhere, All at Once

We wanted to dive into the experience of the AAPI community at work, so we looked at two areas: what experiences or barriers do Asian Americans face in the hiring process, and what’s the workplace experience like for employees of Asian descent once they’re hired? To do this, we used aggregated data from our clients to understand the experiences and outcomes of candidates and employees with Asian Pacific American heritage (using White employees as a benchmark because we find that demographic tends to score the highest in our various datasets). 

Hiring Insights 

To understand how AAPI candidates are experiencing the hiring process, we looked at aggregated candidate data from more than 40 clients, representing more than 3 million candidates. We found:

  • Asian job applicants were hired at lower rates compared to White applicants. This difference suggests that there may be a bias that favors White candidates over Asians. 
  • When it comes to the various stages of the interview process, Asian candidates passed through at lower rates compared to White applicants in all stages except for the recruiter screening stage. This pattern could signal that the gap in the hiring rate for Asians isn’t driven by one particular stage of the hiring process — it’s most of them (e.g. resume reviews, hiring manager interviews, final round interviews, etc.)
  • In most organizations, referrals tend to be hired at higher rates and thus have a higher chance of receiving an offer than other candidates who apply for a role. However, not only are Asian candidates referred at a lower rate than White candidates, but we also found that referred candidates of Asian and Pacific Islander descent are still hired at a lower rate than referred White candidates. 
  • These insights around how Asian candidates and referrals advance in the hiring process are consistent for both Asian American women and men, suggesting that Asian candidates experience different outcomes in the hiring process compared to White candidates, regardless of gender. 

This data signals that the “bamboo ceiling” may not be the only barrier limiting the career trajectory of the AAPI community.  

Inclusion Insights  

Unfortunately, our data did not show that the AAPI experience dramatically improved once someone is ultimately hired. We analyzed aggregated results from our Inclusion Surveys, which represent over 32,000 employees across 11 industries, to better understand the experiences of Asian employees. Our Inclusion Surveys measure how employees feel about key DEI themes that influence inclusion and employee experience – such as belonging, voice, psychological safety, access to resources, perceptions of fairness, etc.  

When we looked at aggregated results from our Inclusion Surveys, we found:

  • In general, Asian employees have less favorable experiences than White employees across all themes of inclusion in our survey.
  • Compared to White survey respondents, Asian respondents score lowest on the theme of perceptions of fairness, with an average gap of -10 percentage points. The perceptions of fairness theme include questions like:
    • To what extent do people from all backgrounds have equal opportunities to succeed at your company?
    • To what extent is your job performance evaluated fairly?
    • To what extent do you feel that your total compensation is fair, relative to similar roles at your company?

Overall, our data shows that there is still a lot of room for improvement when it comes to making Asian Americans’ and Pacific Islanders’ experience at work — from being hired to feeling included at their company — equitable with White employees. It’s important that all members of your team feel they have a voice in an inclusive workplace and we can offer suggestions for building that inclusion with our DEI consulting services.

How Can You Celebrate Asian American Pacific Islander Month?

If you want to find ways to improve equity and inclusion for the AAPI community at work, here are a few resources:

  • Read this blog to learn more about the model minority myth, how it impacts DEI outcomes, and how you can combat it. 
  • Read this blog to understand more about the diversity and varied workplace experiences of the AAPI community, and how disaggregating AAPI data can help you fine-tune DEI efforts.  
  • Download this checklist for step-by-step guidance on how to design, deploy, and analyze data from employee surveys to identify gaps in inclusion at your organization.

Watch this webinar to learn more about Inclusive Hiring practices.

April 27, 2023

For help understanding the AAPI experience in your organization, contact us today!