ascend research

Compiling data from hundreds of companies, including Facebook, the Ascend Foundation’s study, “The Illusion of Asian Success,” details that, despite the efforts of Silicon Valley — home of many startups led by Indian Americans and other Asian nationalities — to improve diversity, not much has changed. (Facebook photo)

A new report from Pan-Asian career lifecycle nonprofit Ascend Foundation has revealed that Silicon Valley executives lacks diversity.

The foundation’s study, “The Illusion of Asian Success,” was released Oct. 3. It details that, despite the efforts of Silicon Valley — home of many startups led by Indian Americans and other Asian nationalities — to improve diversity, not much has changed.

Ascend analyzed the leadership pipeline for San Francisco Bay Area technology companies through publicly available data covering 2007 through 2015.

All companies with 100-plus employees are required to file EEOC reports identifying workforce composition by job categories, race and gender, the news release noted. With that information, the study was able to include pipeline data aggregated from hundreds of companies, including Apple, Cisco, Facebook, Google, HP, Intel, Twitter and Yelp, among others.

Researchers found that diversity in technology leadership roles has generally stagnated over the last decade.

The study discovered that more so than gender, race was a more significant impediment to climbing the proverbial ladder to the top of a company. In this specific focus, Asian and Hispanic women were the most affected.

Notably, the study found that Asians are the least likely to be promoted to managerial or executive positions, in spite of being the largest minority group of professionals and the most likely to be hired in the area.

In particular, Asian women are the least represented group as executives, at 66 percent underrepresentation, according to the findings.

In turn, Caucasian men and women are two times as likely as Asians to become executives, and hold almost three times the number of executive jobs, it said.

White men are leading the way for representation of executive level positions, with white women second, ahead of all other subsets – men and women of any race.

Blacks and Hispanics have declined in their percentage share of the professional workforce despite efforts to hire more underrepresented minorities, the report findings showed.

“When we used the Executive Parity Index to compare the numbers of minorities as executives to their numbers in the workforce, it was clear that that efforts to promote more Asians, blacks and Hispanics have made no meaningful impact to the minority glass ceiling,” said Buck Gee, a former vice president and general manager at Cisco Systems who is an Ascend executive adviser and a study co-author.

“That said, we saw progress made by white women, so we know tech companies can change,” Gee added. “Now it’s time to do the same for minority men and women.”

Dennis Peck, a former vice president at Cisco who now serves as an Ascend executive adviser and co-author of the study, said he hopes the findings helps companies make better efforts in hiring minorities in the future.

“Minority women continue to bump against a double-paned glass ceiling. The data show that a general focus on developing women leaders has not addressed the distinct challenges for Asian, black or Hispanic women,” Peck said. “This has been an unspoken truth in the minority community, and we hope that our report opens a long overdue dialogue. We encourage all companies to take a hard look at their minority pipeline and ask how they can do better.”

Anna Mok, executive vice president and national board member of Ascend, said the recruiting efforts are simply not enough.

“In spite of companies investing in their recruiting and hiring of Asians, blacks and Hispanics, advancement to senior corporate ranks and corporate boards is still highly limited,” Mok said in a statement. “To make the systemic changes that positively impact and advance results, CEOs, their executive teams, and corporate boards need to actively lead change and drive solutions."

The entirety of the report can be found by visiting

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