Understanding the Bamboo Ceiling
By: Matt Osborne
For: Dr. Stefan Litz
November 29th, 2012
Much like the glass ceiling, a term which refers to the restrictions which women face in the workplace, the bamboo ceiling describes the hardships and restrictions which face the Asian population in North America. The bamboo ceiling states that people of Asian descent are passed over for larger management and leadership positions within their companies for less qualified people of non-Asian descent. This is becoming a large problem in western society as it is become a more and more diverse workplace and the minority population continues to grow. The Asian-American population is expected to grow an astounding 213 percent over the next 50 years, 164% over the total population growth for the same period (Reid & Berry, 2010). With such a large growth strengthening the prominence of the Asian community in the future we cannot have a business culture that discriminates against this community. Asian culture is becoming more and more seen in the western world, with Asian restaurants and settlements such as china town becoming regular parts of most urban areas and the prominence of Asian employees and managers in western businesses will continue to grow along with that. Asian culture is having a growing impact in western society and this should carry over into a larger role for Asians within western companies. The bamboo ceiling, for the large part, does not exist due to intentional racism or discrimination, but instead exists due to a variety of underlying factors that most business managers would not even think twice about. The lack of intentional racism or discrimination as factors is shown in the statistic that over 88% of Asians feel happy and good about their workplace and that 85% feel that there are no disrespectful or offensive actions (Reid & Berry, 2010). These factors must be exposed so that western society can focus on correcting this flaw in the corporate world and improving the upper managerial job prospects for Asians. It is wrong of our society to discriminate against other cultures, even if it is an unintentional discrimination, we must be diligent in determining why this is happening and from these factors determine how we can right the situation and help break through the bamboo ceiling. Evidence of the Bamboo Ceiling:
The bamboo ceiling can be seen to exist due to the small number of Asians in management positions when compared with the large number of Asians that exist within the western business world. While Asians make up around 5% of the American population, they only represent 2% of CEO’s and upper management of the Fortune 500 companies. If you look at this statistic with the fact that people of Asian descent make up a large chunk of enrolment in Ivy League schools you begin to see how Asian businesspeople are being passed over for less qualified candidates. Asians make up 15-20% of Ivy League school enrolment, and many other top schools are flooded with top Asian students. Asians are performing better and graduating by the thousands from top rated schools, yet they can only receive 2% representation among Fortune 500 executives (Center For Work-Life Policy, 2011). The Asian community also receive a higher percentage of bachelor degrees, with the Asian population having 20% of single people over 25, and the western culture only having 10% for the same grouping (Reid & Berry, 2010). This shows that there are many qualified and talented Asians that are entering the workforce; they just aren’t able to get into management roles, despite their obvious qualifications. Factors Contributing to the Bamboo Ceiling:
There are many factors that may attribute to the bamboo ceiling in North America, with the largest of these factors being that Asians are perceived to not have the leadership abilities required to take on these larger managerial and executive positions. Some argue...
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