PIERCING THE BAMBOO CEILING is a huge focus for the ASIAN AUSTRALIAN ALLIANCE (AAA), because it is all about the invisible boundaries/ceilings to promotion for us Asian Australians in all facets of society – whether it be in the corporate sector, political sphere, not for profits, and the media – Asian Australians face these boundaries. Australia’s Racial Discrimination Commissioner (and friend to AAA) DR TIM SOUTPHOMMASANE ignited this debate back in 2014 in a speech, and the Diversity Council of Australia did some studies into this and found (via SBS Life article which a few AAA conveners were interviewed in):
Only 1.9 per cent of executives in ASX200 companies and 4.9 per cent of senior executives nationwide were of Asian Australian background. Five per cent of ASX200 companies had Asian Australian CEOs, and 6.1 per cent had Asian Australian chairs. These were well below the nearly 10 per cent of our population who are either Australian-born with Asian parents or have moved here during their lifetimes, and a further 7 per cent with Asian cultural identity.
Based on educational statistics, Asian Australians are over-represented among high-achieving university graduates but under-represented in workforce leadership. Respondents to DCA surveys were overwhelmingly frustrated: only 18 per cent felt their workplaces were free of negative cultural bias and stereotyping, 61 per cent felt pressure to conform to ‘Anglo’ leadership styles in order to progress, and just 15 per cent felt that their employers were making the most of their Asian talent. David Morrison, Australian of the Year and chairman of DCA, announced that helping to break down the bamboo ceiling was one of his priorities for 2016.
These statistics are extremely concerning and things need to change, considering the 2016 census indicated that Asian migration into Australia has been the largest growth with percentage increase at its highest since European settlement in Australia. The AAA plans to mobilise all its associated networks to always touch on this issue and in raising and empowering the Asian Australian voice, will Australia only see change. These changes won’t come overnight, but given time and continual debate, conversations and advocacy, the next few years will really reflect the “ASIAN CENTURY” in Australia – whether non Asians like it or not.
Please keep an eye out for all AAA events on this issue and we encourage all participation and involvement.
Here is the full article by SBS Life in 2016 for your interest: BATTLE OF THE BAMBOO CEILING