Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month begins this week with a most suitable theme this year: Advancement through opportunity.
This theme speaks to both the accomplishments of Asian Americans today and the challenges our community faces in Corporate America. And when applied more specifically to companies in the IT Industry, this conundrum is even more evident when you contrast the sizable presence of Asian Americans in the technology space with the actual number of Asian Americans in executive leadership roles at their companies.
While it won’t be solved overnight, progress on resolving this contradiction is happening as corporate diversity and inclusion efforts are becoming more focused on professional advancement specifically. With Asian Americans recently gaining more recognition in the IT Industry, such as AMD CEO Lisa Su and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, role models and mentors are increasingly showing what’s possible for Asian American professionals in the tech space.
Why is the “art of the possible” so important for the AAPI community?
The “art of the possible” is important for Asian Americans because such a roadmap for greater advancement simply did not exist even just a few years ago. Ironically, the sudden spike of Asian hate crimes during the COVID-19 pandemic — and still to this day — have given Asian Americans an opportunity to raise their individual voices and professional motivations. More specifically, we are speaking up not out of frustration — though the spike in attacks has triggered an unseen mental health crisis among many in the AAPI community — but in an effort to break free from the persistent stereotype that all Asian Americans are well-educated and successful.
As racial stereotypes slowly begin to diminish, thanks to more visibility of prominent Asian American CEOs and the rise of Asian Americans in Hollywood, the long persisting impact of unconscious bias against our community will slowly give way to more obvious opportunities for advancement on more visible stages than ever before. It’s important to celebrate our collective contributions this month, but it’s even more important to create an inclusive future for Asian Americans in the IT industry today and for the generations that follow.