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The Bamboo Ceiling


Most of us have heard about glass ceilings, but what about the bamboo ceiling?

The Australian Financial Review and the Guardian both ran articles this week about "Asians" in executive corporate management after an Australian Diversity Council report was released.  The Council found that only 4.9% of the labour force of Asian heritage make it to senior executive level in Australia and only 1.9% of executives in ASX200 companies have Asian cultural origins.  Some interesting statistics. Read the full articles here and here.

There are so many different ideas thrown out about about how we can increase diversity at the higher echelons of the corporate world (eg quotas, affirmative action).  I don't know what the answer is as I don't think there is a 'one size fits all' solution.

As a young female Australian full time working mum/career woman of Vietnamese heritage, I have certainly been the subject of my fair share of stereotypes and gossip in the corporate arena.  From apparently sleeping my way around for promotion, being too young for a management role, not appearing 'executive' enough, being 'too soft' and people asking 'you're not really a lawyer are you? you don't look like a lawyer'...   I have tried not to dwell on it and rather have focused on improving and developing my skills, working my butt off and saying yes to opportunities that feel right for me.  I have also been very fortunate to have worked for supportive senior managers throughout my career who have been open to promoting me and sponsoring me based on my work and not given into the stereotypes.   They gave me a chance and so far it has worked out ok.

When we hire or promote, we often fall into the habit of hiring and promoting people around us who are similar to us.  It's a natural instinct I think.  Therefore I think one of the ways that change will happen is if we keep talking about the issues, we are all open to trying different approaches and giving different people a chance.  I think the 'buy in' needs to be there at all levels (especially senior management) in order for any change to be effective.  Some food for thought for this week's hump day...

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