May 22, 2023 - Economy

Business leaders call for AAPI unity

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Leaders from large organizations, including Bain and KKR, are calling for more collaboration to improve the visibility and mobility of Asian American Pacific Islanders.

Why it matters: Americans of Asian heritage, particularly older generations, have been historically less vocal inside their own organizations about being included in diversity initiatives.

  • An outdated culture of competitiveness has also existed within certain Asian communities, which has meant fewer AAPI were “opening doors” for the next generation, Preeti Sriratana, partner and managing director at architecture firm Modellus Novus, previously told Axios.

Driving the news: During The Asian American Foundation’s inaugural Heritage Heroes event this month in New York, Joe Bae, co-CEO of private equity giant KKR, addressed the need for unity in his opening speech, noting that “equality is not freely given.”

  • At Gold House’s Gold Gala the following night in Los Angeles, CEO Bing Chen called on business leaders to use their responsibility to “inclusively hire and promote other communities as well.”

Zoom out: Whether it’s the model minority myth, which pits Asian Americans against other people of color, or the perception that there are “too many” of them, Americans of Asian descent face a myriad of public perceptions that make many feel like they are “perpetual foreigners.”

  • A recent study from TAAF and the organization Leading Asian Americans to Unite for Change found that Asian Americans are the least likely to feel they completely belong and are accepted in the U.S.

Yes, but: As Asia becomes more important to the rest of the world, Asian Americans can lean into their heritage to their own advantage, Bain CEO Manny Maceda told Axios on the sidelines of the TAAF conference.

  • “Understanding Asia in a global world is a benefit.”

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