At 8Asians, we’ve blogged about Where Are the Asian CEOs? , how Americans Expect Business Leaders to Be White, as well as the “bamboo ceiling.” I recently read that now Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business (GSB) has an Advanced Leadership Program for Asian American Executives offered for the Summer 2010 from August 15 to 20th.
“[The] new executive program is the first of its kind to address the apparent gap in effective executive training for high-achieving Asian executives – a gap substantiated by the surprising disparity between Asians in the corporate workforce and those in executive positions. The program participants will include mostly high level Asians, but the program is open to any person who holds a position representing the highest 3-4% of the employee workforce, typically with job titles such as functional director, vice-president, or partner”
The course was organized with the help of leaders of the Asian American business society Ascend, the Asia Society as well as Stanford University. Buck Gee, who retired from Cisco Systems in 2008 as a VP, co-authored the study “The Failure of Asian Success in the Bay Area: Asians as Corporate Executive Leaders” and helped put this program together. In that study, Gee had focused on the disparity between highly educated Asian Americans in Silicon Valley and Bay Area firms and their disproportionate under-representation in leadership positions.
I believe there are certain cultural aspects while growing up Asian American that might influence the lack of achievement in mainstream American business culture – but that is just one aspect of the issue. I think creating awareness of the issue can help – much like the very high profile article recently in The New York Times regarding how women were underrepresented in Silicon Valley, despite the fact outnumbering men at elite colleges, law schools, medical schools and in the overall work force. With Asian Americans demographically making up 20% to 30% of the residential population and sometimes as high as 50% of some companies, especially in the Bay Area, at some point in time there has to be cognitive dissonance of an Asian American leadership gap within the walls of American boardroom.