- Incidents of anti-Asian hate accelerated during the pandemic, contributing to an "uncomfortably challenging and discriminatory" work environment for employees who are Asian American, according to recent survey data published by the IBM Institute for Business Value in partnership with analytics firm Oxford Economics.
- IBM's survey of 1,455 Asian American professionals found 8 in 10 respondents personally experienced discrimination based on their ethnicity or race, and nearly half of all respondents said they experienced workplace discrimination. Such figures were higher among senior Asian American executive respondents, "an indication that, the farther they advance in their careers, the more obstacles they confront," IBM said.
- The survey also revealed gaps in training and support. For example, 43% of Asian American respondents said they received training at work, compared to 59% of White respondents. Additionally, 74% of White respondents said they felt empowered and supported in their professional lives, while 40% of Asian American respondents said the same.
IBM's report follows previous research into the pandemic's role in increasing reports of ethnic and racial discrimination.
In July 2020, Pew Research Center published survey results that showed more than a third of respondents who were either Asian American or Black said someone had acted uncomfortable around them since the start of the pandemic. Additionally, nearly a third of Asian American respondents said they faced slurs or jokes because of their race or ethnicity since the coronavirus outbreak began, compared to 21% of Black adults, 15% of Hispanic adults and 8% of White adults.
Distinct subcultures within the Asian American, Pacific Islander and Native Hawaiian communities also have reported different experiences. Per IBM's survey, 50% of South Asian respondents reported facing discrimination at work, while 44% of East and Southeast Asian respondents said the same. The results indicated that "the South Asian cohort reports employer discrimination at a materially higher rate," IBM said.
These communities have also been the focus of federal efforts to identify and prevent harassment and bias at work during the pandemic. In March, members of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued a resolution condemning violence against persons who identify as part of the Asian American, Pacific Islander and Native Hawaiian communities, and last month, EEOC Commissioner Charlotte Burrows reaffirmed the agency's commitment to pursuing legal action against employers that discriminate against these communities.
Organizations that foster strong cultures of allyship and inclusion may see improvement in the experiences of their Asian American employees. A recent report by Bentley University's Gloria Larson Center for Women and Business found employees at such organizations were 50% less likely to leave, 75% less likely to take a sick day and 167% more likely to recommend their organizations as great places to work.
But experts have cautioned employers to avoid "performative allyship" when it comes to speaking out against racism, discrimination and hate, sources previously told HR Dive. Among other actions, employers may elevate and listen to Asian American employees about their experiences, seek solutions to assist members of impacted communities and conduct broad reviews of their diversity and inclusion initiatives and goals.