Employers urged to break 'bamboo ceiling'

An Ruo Bian
An Ruo Bian

Kiwi employers are being urged to hire more Chinese-New Zealanders in management roles.

An Asian young professionals group says more diversity in the upper-management of the corporate world would help break the so-called "bamboo ceiling".

Public health worker An Ruo Bian says he's smart, successful and sociable - but finds his ethnicity can be an issue when navigating the corporate world.

"The hiring manager has actually said, 'You're probably suited for other jobs.'"

Mr Bian says in some cases it's simply been because of his non-Western sounding name.

"I was kind of taken aback, because I've been here all my life and didn't ever question that."

Mr Bian calls it silent discrimination, and young professionals lobby group Future Dragonz is trying to stop it.

"There's some stereotypes out there and belief that Asian people are less suited for leadership," says Mr Bian. "[They're] not as outgoing, and perhaps better suited for kind of backroom office positions."

Future Dragonz says only 2 percent of public sector executives are Asian, despite making up 8 percent of the workforce.

Massey University researcher Paul Spoonley says it's often mid-level companies and organisations which struggle with diversity the most.

"The smaller companies, that have been doing business in a particular way for a very long time, are actually struggling to adjust to the new New Zealand that's emerged."

He points to the police as a good example of a New Zealand organisation getting diversity right.

"They have consciously gone out to recruit and promote Asian-New Zealanders inside the police."

Mr Bian is calling on other employers to follow suit and embrace and value diversity at all levels.