The invisible "glass roof": Can Asians break through the elites of Australia's mainstream society?
- "Bamboo ceiling" that is harder to break than "glass ceiling"
- Australia’s elite "white club"
- To fight or not to fight? There are always cracks in the ceiling
- "It's not about changing ideas, but about changing processes"
What many people do not want to admit is that today, "racial prejudice" and "stereotype" still exist in Australia and anywhere in the world.
For Asian immigrants and their descendants in Australia, labels such as "hardworking", "nerd", and "student tyrant" are often accompanied by most people since they were young.
It's just that even if you are studying for a PhD, there is always a day to get off your halo and graduate.
Once you get out of school and enter the Australian society, although an excellent transcript from your student days can indeed bring a decent job with a decent income, it’s just-"Going into the lobby does not mean you can take the elevator to the top floor. ."
ratio"Glass ceiling"Harder to break"Bamboo ceiling"
As we all know, Australia is a diversified country of immigrants, and Asian faces occupy a significant part of it.
According to 2016 statistics from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), the population of Asian background in Australia is 355 million, accounting for 16.3% of the total population. They may have emigrated to Australia during their lifetime, or were born in Australia, but their parents or ancestors are Asian.
来源:ASIAN AUSTRALIAN FOUNDATION
However, when we set our sights on the "elite" of the mainstream Australian society in the traditional sense, it does not seem to be that "diversified":
According to a research report by the Diversity Council of Australia (DCA), only 200% of the executives of Australia’s top 1.9 listed companies have an Asian background; and among the company’s executives nationwide, those with an Asian background Only 4.9%;
These figures are far below the percentage of the Asian population in the entire Australian society.
In the Australian political world, this phenomenon is even worse:
The new House of Representatives of the Australian Federal Government has a total of 151 members, but there is only one Chinese member, namely Gladys Liu (Liao Chang'e), the first elected Chinese woman member of Chisholm District;
There are 76 senators in the Senate-still only one Chinese senator, Penny Wong (Huang Yingxian), the frequently exposed shadow foreign minister.
Penny Wong / Source:SBS
Even in the Fairfield district, where the proportion of Asians far exceeds the European population, the majority of councillors in the city hall are still Westerners, with only three Asian councillors.
What is it that keeps the Australian Asians who have entered the "lobby" from the elevator that leads to the top floor?
The President of the Australian National University and former Labor Party foreign policy activist Gareth Evans has repeatedly stated that the "Bamboo Ceiling" of Asian Australians and the "Glass Ceiling" experienced by women Just as common, but not getting the same attention.
The term "bamboo ceiling" comes from the book "Breaking the Bamboo Ceiling: Asian Business Strategies" published by Korean woman Jane Hyun in 2005. It refers to an invisible way that Asians face in Western countries. Obstacles to promotion, that is, it is difficult to enter the senior management to become a social phenomenon in the company's leadership role.
Obviously, Australia’s businesses, education, laws, and government institutions are still the same as in the past, with a very single culture-the “Asian Century” described in the white paper by the predecessor Gillard government seems to be the same. Nowhere in sight.
Australian elite"White club"
Someone might ask, "When so many surgeons in Australia today are from Asia, is bamboo ceiling really a problem?"
Although there are many outstanding Chinese in Australia, such as Victor Chang (张任谦), known as the "Father of Modern Heart Transplantation", there is a difference between having a prestigious profession and being a leader in an organization.
Asians may be surgeons, but who is running the hospital?
Who is leading and managing our organization?
John Menadue, who has worked in Australian companies and political institutions since the 70s, believes that Australia has regressed in removing bamboo ceilings, and institutional racism has penetrated to an almost irreversible depth. .
"Although Asian students dominate high school and college grades, Australian listed companies are still the same: pale skin, males, and several old names are reincarnationly appointed to the board of directors and executive positions-this way The situation has been going on for at least 30 years."
The existence of bamboo ceilings is history.
After all, the White Australia policy was not buried until 1973, and the history of the gold rush era also shows that the arrival of immigrants from different backgrounds often leads to inter-ethnic tension (click to read "But I hope that his hometown is his hometown: How long do Chinese people need to stay in Australia to have a real sense of belonging?》).
According to Dan Caprar, a psychologist at the University of Sydney, the "Mateship" (Mateship) between Australian whites also sprouted from then on, because they had to rely on each other in a harsh and unknown area, and naturally established a deeper level. relationship.
Menadoue pointed out that today there is an "unconscious racist model" in the leadership of Australia's political, commercial, legal, media, financial and educational institutions.
"The social class has a strong ability to continuously reproduce itself."
He added, "These classes are basically white clubs. These people rely on their status conscious and unconscious racist mode to appoint people like themselves."
Professor Ying Zhu of the University of South Australia stated that many Australian companies’ boards are “dominated by middle-aged white men who know each other and they hide each other. They feel comfortable, just like the boys’ clubs in boarding schools. The same, racism is hidden. They are lazy, or don’t want to go deep into those who know people from Asia.”
Therefore, many companies still believe in "Same is safe, different is dangerous" (the same is safe, and the different is dangerous).
However, in addition to the stereotypes of white Australians, some Asian immigrants in Australia may have their own shackles.
To fight or not to fight?There are always cracks in the ceiling
For immigrants with Asian backgrounds, it is not easy to be able to talk publicly about the prejudices they encounter.
In a study conducted by the University of North Carolina this year, although interviewees talked about the "club" or "tribal behavior" among senior corporate executives in Western countries, creating invisible barriers for Asians to enter leadership, there are also Many people withdrew from the interview midway because they were worried about the consequences.
The “Asian Value” inherent in Asians will indeed be helpful in the objective test of hard skills, but when the rules of the game change and “soft power” including leadership skills dominate the home court, this Instead, identity often becomes a burden.
In reality, although technical skills can be recognized at a lower level in the organization, the pass at a higher level is a soft skill. After all, for those at the top of the organization, they may be more concerned about:
"Can I trust you? Do we have a good relationship? Do we have common values? How do you represent the company?"
As a Vietnamese lawyer from Melbourne, Tuanh Nguyen shared his experience in the legal profession, “At the elementary and intermediate levels, you often only need to measure your technical ability by objective standards, but when you reach the level of a partner, Everyone’s expectations of your technology will drop, and those political factors will be put on the table: your leadership skills, how to be a partner, and bring new business."
"Who will support you, who will guarantee you?"
Tuanh Nguyen added, “When you reach that critical moment and are pushed to the boundaries of a partner or senior barrister, you need someone to guarantee your promotion. For Asian Australian lawyers, you have not received much from your childhood. Good interpersonal education, I hear more of "working hard, being technically very good at your job, don’t waver, you will be recognized". But this does not allow you to enter the top."
For many Asian Australians, this game may have been lost before it even started.
Perhaps it is the Asian traditional culture that does not encourage the occurrence of "shooting the first bird".
Australian-born Chinese Malaysian activist Erin Chew pointed out, “Everyone applauds David Morrison for talking about bamboo ceilings, but when Asian Australians talk about bamboo ceilings, we will be criticized by our compatriots.”
"We are still regarded as a model minority: our goal is to own our own house, to have a family, and to have a good career, not to break boundaries."
She added that what Asian culture advocates is more to "make us feel satisfied with what we have. It's good now, we don't want to be a target."
For those Asians who have broken through the "elite" of Australia's mainstream society, it also means the abandonment and relief of some other things.
Jenny Leong, who has served as the Newtown State Member of the New South Wales Legislative Assembly since 2015, said in his post-election speech:
"It is unusual for someone like me to stand in this place. I have been a feminist for decades, but it was not until later that I stood up as a Chinese Australian."
Jenny Leong / Source:John Appleyard
"When I was a teenager, like many other people, I just wanted to blend in and don’t want to be different, so I even studied double eyelid surgery because I heard that doing so can make me look more like Westerners."
"When someone asks me,'Where do you come from?'-this has happened so far, but the way I handle it now is completely different. Once, I would tie a knot in my stomach and feel like I was The country rejects, but will give a hostile reply,'Adelaide.' But now I can proudly share my cultural background with others."
"It seems that whether it is a glass ceiling or a bamboo ceiling, there will always be cracks."
"It’s not about changing ideas, but about changing processes"
Victor Sojo of the University of Melbourne’s Work Leadership Research Centre said, “The key is not to change people’s minds, but to change processes.”
One case of process reform is PwC's new internal resource allocation tool Workayer, which selects the best staff anonymously. Anyone in the company who needs project support can submit a request, and the request will cover all employee files that meet the requirements.
Warren Dick, head of tax reporting and strategy in Australia, said: “The personal data of staff is anonymous, which means it will help us avoid unconscious bias when looking for staff.”
The Diversity Council recommends assigning a guarantor to all talented people, and requires them to report in detail on their work to promote the development of their sponsors, so as to assume this responsibility.
For example, Telstra and Herbert Smith Freeills (HSF) have started a pilot project in which young Asian lawyers from one company are paired with senior British and European lawyers from another company. The purpose is to carry out a two-way exchange of wisdom: senior lawyers bring mentor status, and junior mentors bring cultural perspectives to "subvert" the assumptions of mentors.
The label of racism is not limited to racist violence or theoretical beliefs about racial superiority.
Perhaps only those who have suffered discrimination will understand that the most difficult form of racism is actually not the malicious swearing on the street, nor the flagrant smearing of China in malicious political propaganda videos.
——In an institution or organization, it is infiltrated in every system, rule or implementation of the company, hidden in everyone’s eyes, invisible and silent.
J. Hyun, Breaking the Bamboo Ceiling: Career Strategies for Asians
M. Knox, Battle of the bamboo ceiling
J. Lee, For Asian-American students, stereotypes help boost achievement
S. Tan, The path to more diversity at the top