FlyTitle: Diversity in America Inc

A provocative study examines Asians in American corner offices


“A CAREER BOOK about Asians? Aren’t they doing fine…?” So begins “Breaking the Bamboo Ceiling”, a tome by Jane Hyun published in 2005. Because Asian-Americans had higher incomes and education levels and committed fewer crimes than their average compatriot, they were seen as a model minority. Despite this, they rarely rose to the top of companies. A mix of individual, cultural and organisational barriers—the “bamboo ceiling” of the book’s title—seemed to halt their rise.

“一本关于亚裔的职场指南?他们不是发展得挺好吗……?”玄珍(Jane Hyun)在2005年出版的著作《打破竹子天花板》(Breaking the Bamboo Ceiling)的开篇写道。与一般美国人相比,亚裔美国人的收入和教育水平较高,犯罪率较低,因此被视为模范少数族裔。尽管如此,他们却很少能晋升到公司高层。个人、文化和企业组织方面的各种障碍混合在一起——也就是书名中的“竹子天花板”——似乎阻断了他们的职业发展之路。

Fifteen years later Asians are still under-represented. Some 11% of associates at American law firms are Asian, but only 3% of partners are. In technology Asians make up over 30% of the workers but less than 15% of bosses. In 2017 Asians made up roughly 6% of the country’s population but only 3% (16) of the bosses of S&P 500 firms.


经济学人双语版-胆小不得将军做 The benefits of being bold

Some prominent Asians run big companies. Arvind Krishna is IBM’s new boss. Satya Nadella runs Microsoft and Sundar Pichai leads Alphabet. But few other Asians have joined their ranks—and, revealingly, these stars all have Indian roots. There are fewer South Asians in America than East Asians, but they still made up 13 of those 16 Asian S&P 500 CEOs.

也有一些杰出的亚裔掌管着大企业。阿尔温德·克里希那(Arvind Krishna)是IBM的新老板。萨蒂亚·纳德拉(Satya Nadella)掌舵微软,桑达尔·皮查伊(Sundar Pichai)领导Alphabet。但在这个级别上鲜有其他亚裔。而且引人深思的是,这几位明星老板都有印度血统。在美国,南亚裔的人数少于东亚裔,但在16名标普500公司亚裔CEO中,他们还是占了13名。

Why are there so few Asians among America’s business elite? And if a bamboo ceiling is to blame, why do South Asians break through more easily? These questions are the focus of a study by Jackson Lu of MIT Sloan School of Management and colleagues, who surveyed hundreds of senior executives and business-school students. They found that while discrimination exists, it is not destiny. South Asians endure greater racism than East Asians but still outperform even whites (if success is weighed against share of population). Their research also rules out lack of ambition: a greater share of Asians than whites strive for high-status jobs.

为什么美国的商界精英中亚裔这么少?如果问题是竹子天花板,那为什么南亚裔更容易突破?麻省理工学院斯隆管理学院的陆冠南(Jackson Lu)及其同事将这些问题作为研究重点,调查了数百名高管和商学院学生。他们发现,尽管歧视确实存在,但命运并非已经注定。南亚裔比东亚裔承受的种族歧视更严重,却仍然表现不俗,甚至超过了白人(如果用人口占比来加权计算成功度的话)。他们的研究还排除了缺乏抱负这一可能因素:亚裔中争取更高职位的人数比例要高于白人。

That leaves culture. The researchers conclude that South Asians tend to be more assertive than East Asians in how they communicate at work, which fits Western notions of how a leader should behave. The same propensity for confident discourse featured in “The Argumentative Indian”, a book by Amartya Sen, a Nobel-prizewinning economist. The researchers attribute East Asians’ reticence to Confucian values of modesty and respect for hierarchy. Sometimes boldness and bombast are needed to break bamboo.■

那么就剩文化因素了。研究人员得出的结论是,南亚裔在工作沟通中往往比东亚裔更加坚定自信,这与西方对领导人特质的期待相吻合。诺贝尔奖得主、经济学家阿玛蒂亚·森(Amartya Sen)所著的《好辩的印度人》(The Argumentative Indian)中也展现了他们言谈自信的特点。研究人员认为东亚裔的含蓄寡言是因为讲求谦逊和尊卑有序的儒家价值观。有的时候,要富有胆魄、口若悬河,方能一路向上,势如破竹。