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Despite $509B in Annual Buying Power, Asian Pacific Americans Often Overlooked By Marketers, According to Experts At Asia Society Forum

Jun 13, 2012
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New York (June 13, 2012) – Asian Pacific Americans (APAs) are among the most influential and important sectors of U.S. society often overlooked by marketers and major corporations, business leaders and experts said at Asia Society’s fourth annual Diversity Leadership Forum,hosted by Time Warner, on Monday.

Even with annual “purchasing power of $509 billion,” Asian Americans don’t always get consideration by marketers, said Saul Gitlin, Executive Vice President of Strategic Services at Kang & Lee Advertising, which was ranked the #1 Asian Multicultural Agency by Advertising Age in April 2012.

“They’re amongst the most attractive ‘kids in the house’ who for some reason aren’t getting invited out,” Gitlin told a packed crowd. “We’re constantly trying to shine a spotlight on the Asian-American demographic.”

The comments were reiterated by actor Sendhil Ramamurthy of Heroes fame, who said a tendency to ignore Asian-Americans permeates into the entertainment industry. The general lack of Asian faces in popular culture highlights their invisibility in all aspects of society beyond certain stereotypical roles, he said.

“Asians play certain characters,” Ramamurthy said. “They play the doctor, or they play the smart guy. That's very much still the case.” 

Asia Society’s 2012 Asian Pacific Americans Corporate Survey,released at the forum, picked up on similar issues in the workplace.  Just 49% of APA employees feel they “belong” in the companies that employ them. Coupled with the lack of APA senior leaders and role models, this indicates that companies are overlooking APAs both inside and outside their corporate walls. The survey, available on Amazon.com, explores many other facets of the APA employee experience.

The event culminated in an awards ceremony honoring companies at the forefront of promoting APA leaders and global diversity, with KPMG LLP winning the top honor of “Overall Best Employer for Asian Pacific Americans.” Besides the award winners, one additional company was recognized for Distinguished Practice in each category.

To get a copy of the survey or a passcode to watch the conference on FORA.tv please contact Public Relations at [email protected] or 212-327-9271.

Overall Best Employer for Asian Pacific Americans”
Award Winner: KPMG LLP

“KPMG is proud, honored and humbled to accept the award for Overall Best Employer for Asian Pacific Americans for the second year in a row,” said Kathy Hopinkah Hannan, National Managing Partner, Diversity and Corporate Responsibility. “This award acknowledges our commitment to creating a high-performance culture – that provides all our employees and partners, the opportunities and resources they need to be successful.”

 “Best Company for APAs to Develop Workforce Skills”
Award Winner: COLGATE-PALMOLIVE COMPANY

“On behalf of Colgate People around the world, we are honored to accept this important award recognition from the Asia Society," said Eugene Kelly, Worldwide Director, Global Diversity & Inclusion. “At Colgate, the rich diversity of our people is key to our success. We remain committed to maintaining an environment that celebrates the differences of Colgate People, values their contributions and provides opportunities for personal and professional growth.” 

“Best Company in Promoting APAs into Senior Leadership Positions”
Award Winner: FREDDIE MAC

“Freddie Mac is honored to be recognized by the Asia Society for our commitment to diversity in the workplace and for our efforts to promote diversity in our senior leadership ranks,” said Dwight Robinson, Senior Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer at Freddie Mac. “As a result of our commitment, Asian Pacific Americans have strong representation in senior leadership positions across all divisions in the company, including the Management Committee.”

“Best Company for Support of the APA Community”
Award Winner: NEW YORK LIFE

“New York Life is honored to be recognized by the Asia Society as the Best Company for the Support of the Asian Pacific American Community,” said John Kim, president of New York Life’s Investments Group. “As a top employer, New York Life remains committed to fostering an environment in which differences and unique perspectives are encouraged and valued because it leads to greater employee engagement, satisfaction and ultimately business success.”

“Best Company for Mentoring”
Award Winner: IBM

“As the workplace has steadily become more diverse, never before has IBM's philosophy of diversity – ‘none of us is as strong as all of us’ – carried more meaning than it does today,” said Ron Glover, IBM, Vice President, Diversity and Workforce Policy. “Our emphasis on mentoring and cultural adaptability will continue to help us blend the talent, expertise and experience of each IBMer as we increase our capabilities and value to clients.”

“Best Company with the Most Innovative Practices”
Award Winner: GE

“We are delighted to receive this extraordinary recognition from Asia Society for the past two consecutive years,” said Deborah Elam, Vice President & Chief Diversity Officer, GE. “Our Asian Pacific American Forum (APAF) is committed to the growth and retention of its members, developing world-class leaders, helping our communities and helping GE grow. APAF provides a strategic advantage for the Company.”

DISTINGUISHED PRACTICE HONOREES

Overall Best Employer for Asian Pacific Americans”
Honoree: COLGATE-PALMOLIVE

 “Best Company for APAs to Develop Workforce Skills”
Honoree: FREDDIE MAC

“Best Company in Promoting APAs into Senior Leadership Positions”
Honoree: SODEXO

“Best Company for Support of the APA Community” 
Honoree: MERCK

 “Best Company for Mentoring”
Honoree: CORNING

“Best Company with the Most Innovative Practices”
Honoree: IBM

 

About the Asia Society

      Asia Society is the leading global and pan-Asian organization working to strengthen relationships and promote understanding among the people, leaders and institutions of the United States and Asia. The Society seeks to increase knowledge and enhance dialogue, encourage creative expression, and generate new ideas across the fields of arts and culture, policy and business, and education.

      Founded in 1956, Asia Society is a nonpartisan, nonprofit educational institution with offices in Hong Kong, Houston, Los Angeles, Manila, Melbourne, Mumbai, New York, San Francisco, Seoul, Shanghai, and Washington, D.C. 

      Asia Society is on the web at www.AsiaSociety.org