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Asian Heritage Month

May 31, 2022

Posted in: WATSON Views

Continuing a Legacy of Greatness
May Was Asian Heritage Month

Asian Heritage Month has been an opportunity for us all to learn about the achievements and contributions of Canadians of Asian heritage, reflect on the biases that Asian Canadians experience, and understand the perspectives of Asian Canadians on boards, in the workplace, and beyond.

Canadians of Asian heritage have helped shape and continue to make valuable contributions to our society, culture, and organizations, just as they have faced and continue to experience significant adversity and racism.

This month, we celebrate these contributions and achievements, and the individuals behind them. Like Margaret Lyons, CM, the first female vice president of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, a Member of the Order of Canada, and a child of Japanese immigrants, and Senator Vivian Poy, an immigrant from Hong Kong, entrepreneur, author, historian, fashion designer, and the first Canadian of Asian heritage appointed to the Senate of Canada. These are only two of countless examples of leaders making an impact in Canadian culture and society.

And yet, according to Statistics Canada, visible minorities remain underrepresented in Canadian leadership positions. About one in ten Canadian women executives and one in fourteen men executives identify as belonging to a visible minority group, while they represent about one in five people in the workforce. Major visible minority groups represented among executives included South Asian and Chinese, with fewer Black and Filipino executives [source]. And while there have been gains in the diversity of directors of S&P 500 companies, directors of Asian descent remain underrepresented with only 7% of new board seats in 2021 (down from 8% in 2020), and only 5% of all S&P 500 directors. [source]

At WATSON, we strive to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in each of our practice lines – through the governance advice and performance support we provide our clients, mitigating bias in director and executive searches, and governance education for boards and individuals. Here are some ways you can elevate diversity and inclusion in your organization.

  • Diversity at the board table is essential to any organization’s success, and recruitment firms with access to a wide range of candidates beyond the personal network of current directors and management can help. Ask us about the methodology our Search team uses to reduce unintentional bias in the recruitment process.
  • Foster an inclusive environment that encourages and embraces diverse perspectives. Considerations for things like language barriers and cultural differences when drafting meeting materials can go a long way and are often overlooked. Read more tips here.
  • Reduce barriers to joining the board or taking on leadership opportunities like committee or board chair. For example, do some of your directors care for children or elderly family members? This could make it difficult to serve on a board with multi-day in-person meetings that involve travel. Create an environment where diverse perspectives can thrive.
  • Is DEI part of the DNA of your organization? Boards of all shapes, stripes and stages of DEI need to understand where they are today and align on a vision of where they want to be tomorrow, but many struggle. Take our free self-assessment and see if your board could use a DEI Health Check.

As we close out Asian Heritage Month, join us in celebrating the achievements and contributions of Canadians of Asian heritage, learning more about the experiences and perspectives of this diverse group, and considering what we can all do to create a more diverse, equitable and inclusive workforce.

This month, the WATSON team shared some resources to educate each other and spark conversation amongst ourselves, and we would like to share them with you as well.