From the article :
As vice president for talent development at J.P. Morgan, and later as director of recruiting at Deloitte, Jane Hyun noticed a curious thing: Many companies embrace diversity in hiring, going out of their way to bring talent on board from a wide array of cultural backgrounds. However, those recruits often don’t get ahead—and sometimes end up quitting in frustration.
That’s partly because some managers, however well-meaning, “have conflicts with team members from different cultures who see life, and business, through different lenses,” Ms. Hyun said recently.
The problem seems especially acute for Asian-Americans. Consider: Although they make up 5% of the U.S. population, and 16% of all Ivy League college grads (35% at top schools like Stanford and M.I.T.), Asians hold only 2% of executive positions at Fortune 500 companies, according to a recent study by the nonprofit Center for Work-Life Policy.
About 10 years ago, Ms. Hyun, who was born in Korea and moved to New York with her family at age 8, began to study the puzzle of what holds Asian-Americans back.
One result of her research: A 2005 book, Breaking the Bamboo Ceiling: Career Strategies for Asians. In it, Ms. Hyun examines the cultural barriers that can work against Asians in American companies. “Asian cultures emphasize putting the group before oneself, humility and respecting authority,” Ms. Hyun explained. “Asian sayings like ‘The loudest duck gets shot’ are totally at odds with Western notions like ‘The squeaky wheel gets the grease’ and ‘Blow your own horn.’ ”
In practical terms, that means many Asians hesitate to promote themselves or their ideas at work. “For example, in meetings with higher-ups, where decision-makers are seeking people’s ideas and suggestions, an Asian-American often will not speak up, for fear of seeming to steal the boss’s thunder,” she said. “Unfortunately, that reticence is perceived by Americans as a lack of ideas, or as disengagement.” Neither is a great career booster.
Ms. Hyun started her consulting company, Hyun & Associates, in 2003. Her aim was twofold: To help high-potential Asian-Americans bridge the cultural divide and get ahead in their careers, and to teach managers of all ethnicities to “build a new toolbox of communication styles. We call it developing ‘cultural fluency.’ ”
Her timing couldn’t have been better. The accelerating globalization of business dictates that anyone aspiring to the C-suite at a big company now needs international (read: multicultural) experience; and employers need managers who won’t alienate overseas colleagues by running roughshod over their values and beliefs.
Ms. Hyun and her partner, Audrey Lee, who is a second-generation Chinese-American and a seasoned executive trainer, have counseled thousands of U.S.-based managers. Some of them send fan mail.
An Asian-American M.B.A. on the fast track at a global conglomerate headquartered in Manhattan, for one, credits Ms. Hyun’s coaching with helping her land a “a highly visible yearlong assignment throughout Latin America,” she wrote in an email. “This opportunity would not have emerged without you.”
Said Ms. Hyun: “That makes my day.”