Workplace Stereotypes of Asian Americans

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By: Pam Montero

A newspaper reportWorkplace Stereotypes of Asian Americans cited a study by a research organization, which found out that Asian Americans report the highest rates of workplace discrimination in the U.S.

According to the study, though about 31 percent of Asian Americans surveyed reported incidents of discrimination followed by African Americans at 26 percent, generally they file fewer complaints to the Employment Equal Opportunity Commission as compared to other racial, ethnic, or minority groups.

Such result of the study seems to reinforce the perceived image of Asian Americans as quiet and docile. Thismakes them easily susceptible to discrimination by other races.

As enshrined by the civil rights movement, no group should be treated with hostility and contempt.

Frequent occurrence

Asian American women encounter biases more than twice as compared to men. Such biases are apparent in incidents of harassment, current conditions in the workplace, and system of work assignments.

The most frequent type of workplace discrimination cited by survey respondents are the following:

–  Sex bias (at 26 percent)

–  Racial bias (at 23 percent)

–  Age bias (at 17 percent)

Most of these incidents are related to decisions on employment promotion and unequal pay to employees. Other types include favoritism, sexual orientation, and language, but these are not covered by federal law.

Unfair and stifling stereotypes

–  Asians who do not speak up either do not care about, or lack knowledge of, an issue. This is a misconception that other people who belong to other racial groups usually think about Asians.

Actually, in Asian culture, talking excessively is viewed as a sign of weakness. Thus, someone who are the talkative or silent type does not measure if they are capable or not to perform the job.

–  Asians are quiet, passive, and anti-social. This means that they are viewed as less creative or unwilling to take chances or challenges, as if other races are saying these characteristics are not present among them.

–  Asians are non-confrontational yet hardworking and technically skilled. Again, this is like saying these characteristics do not exist in other races.

Cultural customs

In order to break these cultural biases and stereotypes, it is significant to understand the Asian culture and way of life. This is to eliminate any cultural insensitive practices among employers and managements of companies.

–  On management

Due to a relationship-oriented perspective that was ingrained in their culture, Asians communicate indirectly when giving negative feedback to other people. They will rather not argue with someone in public to allow him or her to save face.

The sense of respect for elders and hierarchy of many Asians have an effect on their behavior in organizational or business meetings.

An Asian who nods does not necessarily mean he or she is agreeing with the speaker. He or she may simply acknowledge that the speaker’s statements are heard clearly.

–  Work ethics

Due to their sense of humility, many Asians may understate their qualifications and experiences during job interviews.

Early in their lives, Asians were taught not to brag about their own accomplishments, and the fact that one is pursuing a more prestigious job is seen as bragging itself. They think that being hardworking speaks more about their worth.

Regarding work performance, they may not feel at ease completing self-assessment as a form of appraisal. In addition, however, they will prefer to be rewarded as part of a group rather than be recognized as an individual.

While Caucasian children are taught that in order to succeed in life, they need to work it out on their own, Asian children are taught that their boss will take care of their needs if they are hard working.

Resolute measures

To prevent the possibility of becoming an easy target of discrimination, Asian Americans should speak out and demand equal treatment in accordance to law. Employers and managers, on the other hand, should take extra effort to effectively manage a diverse workforce and consequently gain the advantages of a cross-cultural workplace.

Pam Montero is connected with an international manpower recruitment agency headquartered in Singapore.


Related Post: Coping with Racial Discrimination in the Workplace

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