5.07.2015

Where are the Asian American executives at top tech firms?

New report says Silicon Valley companies are bypassing Asians for exec jobs.



Anyone familiar with the tech industry is well aware that Asian Americans are significantly represented within the ranks of Silicon Valley. However, according to a new study released this week, major technology companies like Google and Yahoo are far more inclined to hire Asian Americans as computer programmers than to promote them to become managers or executives. Raise your hand if you already knew this.

Study: Top tech firms bypassing Asian workers for exec jobs

Asian Americans tech workers make up roughly a third of the workforce at companies like Google, Yahoo and Facebook, but they are severely underrepresented in leadership positions, according to a report released Wednesday by the Ascend Foundation, a nonprofit organization focused on issues of Pan-Asian leadership.

The report, titled Hidden in Plain Sight: Asian American Leaders in Silicon Valley, analyzed 2013 data filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission by five Silicon Valley companies -- Google, Yahoo, Intel, Hewlett-Packard and LinkedIn -- found that white employees had a massive advantage (surprise, surprise) over Asian Americans when it came to being promoted to the executive level.


According to the report, Asians held 27 percent of the professional jobs yet only 14 percent held executive positions at the five studied companies. By comparison, whites comprised 62 percent of the professional workforce, but filled 80 percent of the executive jobs.

Here are some of the key findings from the report's analysis comparing Asian and White workforce data:

  • Although there are nearly as many Asian professionals as white professionals in most of these five companies, white men and women are ~154% more likely to be an executive compared to their Asian counterparts.
  • Asian women are the least represented as executives, relative to their percentage in the workforce. There are 9,254 Asian women professionals in our sample (13.5%), but only 36 Asian women executives (3.1%).
  • In the aggregate, the data reflect that white women are 16.8% of professionals, well below their numbers in the U.S. population (40%), but also suggest that they are having success at reaching executive levels in Silicon Valley–based companies. White women have an EPI nearly at parity at executive levels, relative to their representation as individual contributors.
  • The "Asian effect" is 3.7X greater than the "gender effect" as a glass ceiling factor. The Asian effect was measured at ~154% for both men and women. The gender effect was measured at ~42% for both whites and Asians.

And these are just the numbers out of Google, Yahoo, Intel, Hewlett-Packard and LinkedIn. Overall, according to the San Jose Mercury News, Asian Americans make up half of the Bay Area's technology workforce. You can bet this leadership gap stretches further than just five companies.

Read the full report here: Hidden in Plain Sight: Asian American Leaders in Silicon Valley

More here: Tech's glass ceiling nearly four times harder for Asian Americans to crack

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