Asians are generally well-represented in technology companies among the rank and file, but few ascend the corporate ladder to the top.
The recent release of data on the diversity of employees by more than a dozen tech companies has lent new vigor to Buck Gee’s, a former Cisco vice president, campaign to shatter what he calls the “bamboo ceiling.”
He points to Yahoo, where Asians hold 17 percent of leadership positions while making up 39 percent of its U.S. workforce, according to demographic data the company released in June. Women – typically woefully underrepresented in technology – fared better. They make up just 37 percent of Yahoo’s global workforce, but hold 23 percent of executive-level positions.
That pattern persists across most tech companies.
Google and Twitter were the only companies where Asian Americans had a better chance of achieving a leadership position than women. Asian American employees at LinkedIn, Yahoo, Facebook or Intel had a smaller probability of rising through the ranks than their female colleagues. For example, at LinkedIn, Asian Americans hold 60 percent of the company’s technical jobs, but only 28 percent of its leadership positions.
“It is a big issue now, and it getting more pronounced,” said Vish Mishra, a venture capitalist at Clearstone. “Many conversations are taking place in the executive suites and boardrooms these days and that’s a good thing. I see plenty of bench strength among Asian leaders, but they are not given enough playing time.”