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Race and Culture - The Conversation in Asia

Focus Area | Tackling Workplace Inequality

Overview

In the wake of recent social turmoil in many countries, the issue of race has been prioritised on the global corporate D&I agenda. Yet many companies are grappling with how to address this topic in Asia.

  • How do we talk about race and culture at work in a way that resonates locally? 
  • And what do the dynamics of race and culture look like in different markets in Asia?

With strong corporate sponsorship, Community Business is currently leading an ambitious research project - engaging with local stakeholders across 6 markets in Asia to explore answers to these questions and provide recommendations for companies seeking to adopt a progressive approach to addressing race and culture in their workplaces in Asia. Learn the latest updates and download available research assets

Latest Update

As Phase 1 of the research project comes to an end, we’re excited to share the first set of research assets designed to: 

  • Explore the extent to which a discussion on race and culture is important for companies in Asia at this time  

  • Understand the context and key dimensions of race and culture in different markets in Asia 

Expert Perspectives

Read a range of perspectives on the topic of race and culture and its relevance to the Asian context, based on our interviews with local experts.

Market Context Infographics

Understand the important context of race and culture in 6 different markets across Asia. Our summary infographics include key statistics and an overview of the historical and legal context as well as key issues.   

Objectives

The specific objectives of this Research Project include: 

  • Explore the extent to which a discussion on race and culture is important for companies in Asia at this time 

  • Understand the context and key dimensions of race and culture in different markets in Asia 

  • Identify specific experiences of racial and cultural bias (positive and negative) in the workplace in different markets in Asia 

  • Discuss whether companies have a responsibility to address race and culture in their organisations in Asia 

  • Share ways in which companies can address race and culture in Asia, drawing on direct experience (good and bad) of companies and insights from local experts 

  • Provide recommendations, resources and tools to help companies address race and culture in Asia 

Scope

In examining this topic in Asia, the Research Project will focus on the markets of China, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Philippines and Singapore.

Our Approach

The Research Project is divided into three phases and will include a range of research approaches: 

Phase 1: Race & Culture – Do We Need to Talk About This in Asia?  (Apr – Jun 2021)

In the first phase, we’ve been doing background research and interviewing experts across the region (mainly local academics with published work on this topic) to understand the context and relevance of discussion on race and culture in different markets in Asia. 

  • Market Context Infographics – learn about the local dynamics

  • Expert Perspectives – read what they have to share 

Phase 2: Understanding Racial and Cultural Bias - Experiences in Asia  (Jul – Sep 2021) 

Now in the second phase, our focus turns to corporate employees to understand their experiences in Asia. We’re doing this via: 

  • An Online Employee Survey    

  • Employee Focus Groups   

  • Employee Stories

Stay tuned as we look to release further research assets in October 2021. 

Phase 3: How to Address Race & Culture in Asia  (Nov 2021 – Jan 2022) 

In the final phase, in addition to engaging externally to identify corporate approaches and best practices, we will be looking to summarise and analyse all that we have heard and learnt to provide recommendations for companies.

  • One to one interviews with business leaders and consultants   

  • Corporate Case Studies 

Sponsors

This Research Project is sponsored by the following organisations:

  

Expert Interviewees

  • Enze Han

    Enze Han

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    Associate Professor, The University of Hong Kong
    China
  • Isabella Ng

    Isabella Ng

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    Assistant Professor, Education University of Hong Kong
    Hong Kong
  • Li Yao-Tai

    Li Yao-Tai

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    Assistant Professor, Baptist University of Hong Kong
    Hong Kong
  • Shalini Mahtani

    Shalini Mahtani

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    Founder and Chief Executive Officer, The Zubin Foundation
    Hong Kong
  • Monika Navandar

    Monika Navandar

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    Founder and Chief DEI Consultant, NEOSEVEN Solutions
    India
  • Papia Sengupta

    Papia Sengupta

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    Assistant Professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University
    India
  • Tomoko Tokunaga

    Tomoko Tokunaga

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    Assistant Professor, University of Tsukuba
    Japan
  • Tsukiko Tsukahara

    Tsukiko Tsukahara

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    Founder and President, Kaleidist K.K.
    Japan
  • Richard T. Chu

    Richard T. Chu

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    Five College Associate Professor of History, University of Massachusetts Amherst
    Philippines
  • Leong Chan-Hoong

    Leong Chan-Hoong

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    Associate Professor, Singapore University of Social Sciences
    Singapore
  • Mathew Mathews

    Mathew Mathews

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    Head, Social Lab & Principal Research Fellow, Institute of Policy Studies
    Singapore

Associate Professor, The University of Hong Kong

Enze Han

Enze Han is Associate Professor at the Department of Politics and Public Administration at the University of Hong Kong (HKU). His research interests include ethnic politics in China, China's relations with Southeast Asia and the politics of state formation in the borderland area between China, Myanmar and Thailand. 

Date of Interview with Community Business: June 2021.

Assistant Professor, Education University of Hong Kong

Isabella Ng

Isabella is an Assistant Professor of the Department of Asian and Policy Studies at The Education University of Hong Kong. She focuses her research on gender and development in Asia, feminist geography, feminist research methods, anthropology of migration; migrants and diaspora (Hong Kong and Southeast Asia), rural villages in Hong Kong and China and media studies. She is also a founder of the Hong Kong Society for Asylum-Seekers and Refugees.

Date of Interview with Community Business: May 2021.

Assistant Professor, Baptist University of Hong Kong

Li Yao-Tai

Originally from Taiwan, Yao-Tai is an Assistant Professor at Hong Kong Baptist University where he has worked since 2017. His research interests include race and ethnicity, identity, migration, social media, social networks, and contentious politics. His Ph.D. dissertation investigates identity politics overseas, social interactions between Chinese migrants and non-Asian Australians, contested Chinese culture across borders, and the integration experiences of both long-term and temporary Chinese migrants in Australia.

Date of Interview with Community Business: June 2021.

Founder and Chief Executive Officer, The Zubin Foundation

Shalini Mahtani

Shalini Mahtani is the founder of The Zubin Foundation, a Hong Kong-based think tank on issues related to ethnic minority welfare and patient welfare in Hong Kong. She is also the founder of Community Business. A respected voice on social issues, she was recognised by the Hong Kong SAR Government for her contribution to issues related to ethnic minorities in Hong Kong.

Date of Interview with Community Business: May 2021.

Founder and Chief DEI Consultant, NEOSEVEN Solutions

Monika Navandar

Monika has over 16 years of multi-industry HR experience in both the emerging and developed markets. She is an expert in diversity and inclusion, cultural agility and talent management. She has led many leadership roles in India, USA, Singapore, Italy, Dubai, and South Africa, supporting the global C-suite leaders. She is the Founder of NeoSeven Solutions and has a dynamic partner team of senior leaders worldwide. She has been on the Harvard Business Review Advisory Council for more than four years.

Date of Interview with Community Business: June 2021.

Assistant Professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University

Papia Sengupta

Dr Papia Sengupta is Assistant Professor at the Centre of Political Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in Delhi where she teaches Political Science. She completed her PhD and Masters of Philosophy on Multiculturalism and Political Theory at JNU and held fellowships at Queen’s University in Kingston and University of Edinburgh where she specialised in subjects such as multiculturalism, linguistic diversity and ethnic violence in Northeast India and its impact on the women.

Assistant Professor, University of Tsukuba

Tomoko Tokunaga

Tomoko is an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Human Sciences at the University of Tsukuba in Japan. Her research covers migrants and education, multiculturalism and ethnography, exploring how immigrant youths in Japan and the United States construct identities, homes and communities as they navigate the borderlands.

Date of Interview with Community Business: June 2021

Founder and President, Kaleidist K.K.

Tsukiko Tsukahara

Tsukiko is the Founder and President of Kaleidist K.K. which provides advisory services and workshops in diversity and inclusion. Her work ranges wide spectrum of diversity from gender, race and ethnicity, LGBTQ to workstyle, etc. She works with global multinationals and Japanese companies, government and academic organisations and is an advisor for Catalyst, Japan.

Date of Interview with Community Business: May 2021.

Five College Associate Professor of History, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Richard T. Chu

Richard T. Chu received his A.B. from Ateneo de Manila University, M.A. from Stanford University, and Ph.D. from University of Southern California. His research and publications focus on the history of the Chinese and Chinese Mestizos in the Philippines and of the different Chinese diasporic communities in the world, centring on issues of race, ethnicity, gender, empire and nationalism.

Date of Interview with Community Business: June 2021

Associate Professor, Singapore University of Social Sciences

Leong Chan-Hoong

Leong Chan-Hoong is Associate Professor at the Centre for Applied Research, Singapore University of Social Sciences. His research interests include immigration, intergroup relations, national narratives and management of cultural diversity. Formerly the Head of Social Lab at the Institute of Policy Studies, National University of USingapore, he has consulted for the Ministry of Defence and Ministry of Education Culture, Community and Youth in Singapore.

Date of Interview with Community Business: May 2021.

Head, Social Lab & Principal Research Fellow, Institute of Policy Studies

Mathew Mathews

Dr Mathew Mathews is Head of IPS Social Lab, a centre for social indicator research and a Principal Research Fellow at the Institute of Policy Studies. To date, Mathews has been involved in over fifty research projects, most of them addressing social policy issues. These have included research using both quantitative and qualitative methods on race, religion, immigrant integration, family, ageing and poverty.

Date of Interview with Community Business: July 2021

Get Involved

The research project is ongoing till Q1 2022. To learn more about how to get involved, visit this page.