- On Tuesday, a 52-year old Asian American woman was attacked in New York City.
- The attack is the latest of many against Asian Americans since the start of the pandemic.
- Diversity consultants shared how managers can support Asian colleagues and call for systemic change.
- Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.
Last week, a 52-year-old Asian American woman was assaulted and shoved to the ground outside a New York City bakery. She hit her head on the concrete sidewalk and had to receive several stitches, AP reported.
It’s the latest in a string of anti-Asian attacks since the start of the pandemic, which many said has been fueled by former President Trump’s use of the phrases “the China virus” and “the Kung flu” when referring to the novel coronavirus.
Between March 19, 2020 and December 31, 2020, the Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council, an Asian advocacy group, received over 2,800 firsthand accounts of anti-Asian hate from 47 states and the District of Columbia. The accounts include stories ranging from people having racial slurs directed at them to people getting punched or slashed in the face.
Earlier this month, a suspect was arrested and charged for assaulting three elderly victims in the Chinatown area of Oakland, California. In San Francisco, an 84-year-old man from Thailand died after being knocked to the ground.
“Watching videos of the attacks was horrifying. I felt the mix of deep anger and sadness that only a sense of powerlessness can bring,” DEI consultant Richard Leong, who is Asian American, told Insider.
Like Leong, many Asian people in the US are likely upset, sad, and fearful. Creating a safe work environment is so important during these difficult times.
Check in and ask how you can be of support
Managers need to show empathy and create an environment where their direct reports feel safe to express their feelings, Kailei Carr, CEO of The Asbury Group, a leadership DEI consultancy, told Insider.
“Sincerely asking how Asian employees are doing and if there is anything they need in one-on-one sessions is a good start,” Carr said.
Don’t demand a response, she added, but express that you’re happy to connect them with mental health and other resources.
Managers should also be prepared to offer their employees flexibility in their work schedule or workload, and to connect them with resources that might be helpful, like an employee resource group that focus on employees of color, Leong said.
“This could look like reprioritizing deliverables and meetings to give space, offering connections to leaders and communities that might be helpful – especially if the manager does not identify as Asian – or simply offering a kind and supportive space to listen,” the DEI consultant added.
Send out a statement condemning the attacks and offering resources
If your leadership team hasn’t already done so, consider working with HR and your employee resource groups (ERGs) focused on Asian employees and employees of color to send out a statement condemning the attacks.
For example, Paul Knopp, CEO and chairman of KPMG recently released a statement on LinkedIn, reading in part: “KPMG does not tolerate discrimination, harassment or racism; and condemns all forms of violence and xenophobia-all acts of hatred and bigotry are wrong.”
Netflix’s vice president of inclusion strategy Vernā Myers also shared a message on LinkedIn.
“The violence against our Asian brothers & sisters is unacceptable and I am committed to standing against xenophobia & hate everywhere,” her statement reads.
Carr added that the statement your company puts out could share lists of organizations that are supporting victims or raising awareness, as well as a list of mental health resources for employees impacted.
Support your Asian colleagues beyond this moment of crisis
Managers can use their positions of power to talk with those higher up about how to use this moment to usher in real change, he said.
“Asian employees often do not have adequate visibility and support, it’s critical for managers to look beyond the current moment and think about systems and structures to support Asian employees,” Leong said.
According Leong, managers can start conversations with leadership on key questions like “Do Asian employees feel seen and represented in the company’s leadership?” and “Are their stories told as part of the company narrative?”
This way, businesses can take this dark moment and turn it into a call to action for positive change.