This event is part of Sydney Lunar Festival.

Professional development forum

Why aren't there more Asian CEOs in Australia?

Asian-American professionals, both men and women, are the most likely of any ethnic group to aspire to promotion and think they’ll get there one day. Yet they are the least likely to be promoted to management, according to a 2018 McKinsey’s workplace survey which tracked representation, upward mobility and mindsets by gender and ethnicity. This is also true of Asian-Australians anecdotally. What is preventing that desire from translating into actual advancement?

This mismatch presents a tremendous opportunity for leaders and organisations. In a war for talent, every talent matters. What is not obvious are the benefits we miss out on if we do not make the most of our talent. The term “bamboo ceiling” had been coined to describe this phenomenon, but is the lack of Asian faces in leadership simply a visible symptom of a much deeper cultural problem?

Diversity activism has been on overdrive to the point of fatigue. Yet there is hardly an agreement on a solution. Should quotas and targets used by women’s advocacy groups for gender equality be adopted for racial diversity? Is diversity advocacy just self-interest and is it even possible to have increased Asian representation that does not come at the expense of other groups (such as even more underrepresented Aboriginal peoples)?

To debate this topic, the Sydney professional development forum is joined by a panel of Asian-Australian business leaders with decades of experience wrestling with the bamboo ceiling in corporate Australia across several industries.


Charles Cho – General Counsel, NSW Treasury
Ken Woo – Partner, PwC
Rahul Dutta – Director, ServiceNSW

We welcome aspiring leaders of all backgrounds to join us for a nuanced discussion to explore the best way forward in the modern Australian workplace.



2/63 Dixon St, Haymarket NSW 2000, Australia


Wednesday 5 February 2020 from 6pm to 8pm


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