Pandemic has shed light on centuries-old racism against Asians

·2 min read

WATCH: DIAL Global Virtual Summit – Day 2

Racism against the Asian community is not new, rather recent events around the pandemic have exacerbated a centuries-old problem, said panellists at the DIAL Virtual Global Summit on Thursday.

Speaking at a session titled ‘#Stop Asian Hate’ the panellists, all of whom were from Asian descent, said they had dealt with racism growing up but there was nowhere for them to take their grievances, and so they had no choice but to learn to ignore it.

“I didn’t have a platform where I could go and say I’ve been bullied, is there someone who can help me. I just grew a thicker skin, that’s what you had to do in the 1970s and 80s, you had to take it on the back pull up your trousers and get on with it,” said TV chef Kwoklyn Wan.

“That’s not the right thing but we had no choice.”

Having learnt from these childhood experiences, Alice Choi, chief operating officer McCann Health Medical communications, said the Asian community now “needs to jump straight away on any negative comments or misperceptions or slurs disguised as jokes. No matter how small we need to clamp down on any offensive perception."

She also said there was a lack of Asian role models growing up, one exception being Bruce Lee, and the younger generation now needs more strong mentors to look up to.

DIAL Global Virtual Summit, in partnership with Yahoo Finance owner-Verizon Media (VZ), is a two-day free event where senior leaders from FTSE 100 and Fortune 500 Companies discuss diversity, inclusion, and belonging and how these components are essential for successful businesses.

As for what workplaces can do better to include Asians, Choi said "organisations must have a true sense of purpose, they can't just pay lip service" to diversity and inclusion.

Panellists on the '#Stop Asian Hate' session.
Panellists on the '#Stop Asian Hate' session.

Practically, this means they need to be willing to put time, energy and money "to fulfil this purpose." She said it's also important this a top-down and bottom-up approach, rather than just being lead by senior leadership.

She said internal D&I education and communication that is not just driven by under-represented groups and that filters through the whole of the company, be recruitment or client-facing activities or business processes, is key, as is having the right metrics in place to measure success.

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