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  • Claire Le Compagnon

Thoughts on #StopAsianHate in the workplace

Last week, as I was pitching a training to a potential client, we discussed #StopAsianHate. What shape it could take in the workplace and how we could talk about it in a productive and positive way to leaders.

I personally don't like to use those hashtags as they seem to me to stop any type of reflection and prevent sereine debates. I'd like to think of it as discrimination in the workplace, more than hate.

Connecting People in Japan - Photo Leopold Le Compagnon)

Pretty fast we were talking about companies promoting consciously or not, a leadership stereotype in the North American environment ( assertive, extravert, talkative, competitive, ...). And therefore how difficult it can be for the ones who don't fit the stereotype to climb the ladder.

5 years ago, I was told I would never get promoted because as a European, I could be perceived "negative", even though leadership knew I wasn't. But you know, perception is what matters in the workplace. I remember sitting on my chair, smiling to save face, figuring what to answer and thinking... great, what am I supposed to do with this? If I'm authentic I'm too direct therefore negative? . If I try to mimic the North American style, then I'm not as good as a native. And when I flex that muscle to figure when to be authentic and when to fit-in, that is still not good enough.

The great thing I got from this experience, is that I started learning about cultural intelligence, and decided that I would help leaders and teams to stop discriminating others for their cultural difference.

6 months ago, two asian friends of mine got moved during a reorganization in their company. Both of them joined a planning function, and none of them had ever expressed the desire to join that department. I remember them telling me how happy they were to still have a job, but clearly questioning the reasoning for their new roles. Did they move us here because they think we are good at numbers as Asian leaders?

Ultimately, you would want leaders and executives in global companies to surround themselves with very diverse talents. But it isn't yet what we are seeing. Confronting yourself to talents that will complement and challenge your point of views, practices, communication style, is not easy. It can actually be unsettling. My best managers were very secure people. They knew what they could offer, and actually valued what I was bringing to the table. They were embracing differences.

I personally believe that a culturally intelligent leader won't fear differences but look for it. He/She is happy to confront ideas, it helps sharpen point of views. Hiring and promoting leaders who behave, communicate and think like you is creating an echo chamber. Is it confortable? Probably yes.

If I have the chance to work with the client who started that discussion last week, we will absolutely spend time on the asian leadership style, what they can bring to the table and how valuable this is for teams.

If you want to learn more about leaders who practice cultural intelligence on an everyday basis, you can browse my blog in the the Cq with Leaders serie #CQwithleaders

If you want to know more about Cultural Intelligence coaching and what it can provide to your leaders and teams, contact me at

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