For many Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, what some have called the “bamboo ceiling” is a daily obstacle. It manifests itself in regular microaggressions — co-workers who always confuse Asian Americans on staff because they “look alike” or a manager who expects an AAPI professional to play the role of “model minority,” stereotypically shy or demure. The consequences can stymie careers as they’re passed over for projects and promotions. Across industries, research shows that AAPI professionals fill middle management ranks, but their percentages plummet in senior management and C-suites.
This “structural racism” hits every industry — including investment management. To get a pulse on the current state of the challenges faced by investment managers in the AAPI community, the Association of Asian American Investment Managers surveyed 100 investment management professionals and conducted more than a dozen qualitative interviews with executives across the United States. What we found was striking: Some 65% of respondents said the bamboo ceiling has been a moderate to serious problem in their careers. Even with the highest levels of education and success by every other measure, AAPI professionals face discrimination and bias.