Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the Workplace


May 20, 2021

Key Findings

  • Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) employees rate their companies 3.76 out of 5 stars on Glassdoor, a higher level of employee satisfaction than that reported across all workers (3.52 out of 5), including AAPI workers.
  • The highest rated industries for AAPI workers are Education (4.25 out of 5), Government (4.09) and Non-Profit (3.93). The lowest rated sectors are Consumer Services (3.23), Media (3.4) and Retail (3.42). The higher average overall rating for AAPI workers is in part explained by AAPI workers being disproportionately represented in higher-rated industries like Education.

For Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month 2021, we are revealing Glassdoor employee satisfaction ratings from Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) workers. In this research, we present overall employee satisfaction ratings for AAPI workers compared to all workers with more detail within industries, metropolitan areas and select companies.

This research offers a first look using newly available data provided by users self-identifying their demographic information. This data comes from Glassdoor’s Fall 2020 initiative enabling employees and job seekers to anonymously share their demographic information in order to increase transparency into the employee experience for workers from different backgrounds. 

Data on Glassdoor

Our sample of Glassdoor ratings contains 7,377 reviews from employees self-identifying as Asian, Asian American, Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander. The Asian population in the United States is extremely diverse, representing groups of many different origins. On Glassdoor, we separate “Asian” into categories for “East Asian,” “South Asian,” “Southeast Asian,” “Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander” and “Multiracial Asians.”

Our data on Glassdoor broadly mirrors the AAPI population in the United States. Table 1 (below) shows the percent of ratings with demographic information from each Asian subgroup, compared to the population share for the equivalent Asian subgroup in data from the U.S. Census Bureau. The distribution of Asians in Glassdoor reviews is similar compared to the U.S. population, with Glassdoor data slightly over-representing South Asians and Multiracial Asians.

Table 1: Asian American and Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander Reviews on Glassdoor, 2017–2021

Group1# of Reviews2% of Reviews% of Population3
East Asian1,8612.9%2.7%
South Asian2,1693.4%1.7%
Southeast Asian1,5182.4%2.5%
Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander2760.4%0.5%
Other Asian930.1%0.2%
Multiracial Asian41,4602.3%1.1%
Subtotal7,37711.6%7.6%
1National origin reported by Census Bureau grouped to be comparable to Glassdoor categories.
2U.S. reviews for jobs held during period from January 1, 2017–May 2, 2021
3Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Tables B02018, B02019, American Community Survey, 2019 Estimates. Retrieved from censusreporter.org
4Multiracial Asians are counted separately in Glassdoor data, but are double-counted in each individual group in Census data. % of population from Census estimated using: https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2021/04/29/key-facts-about-asian-americans/

Workplace Satisfaction for AAPI Employees

On average, AAPI workers on Glassdoor rate their companies a 3.76 out of 5 stars, compared to the 3.52 average for all workers (including AAPI workers). Figure 1 below shows the average overall company rating on Glassdoor for each Asian subgroup, showing that while Asians rate their companies a 3.76 out of 5 stars, there is substantial variation between groups. South Asians have the highest employee satisfaction, rating their employers 3.94 out of 5 stars on average. East Asians (3.74 out of 5), Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islanders (3.72), Southeast Asians (3.71) and Other Asians (3.70) all have average ratings near the average rating for all Asians. Multiracial Asians have lower average ratings, at 3.59, more in line with the average across reviewers of all backgrounds (3.52).

Figure 1: Average Glassdoor Overall Ratings for Different AAPI Subgroups

Note: Data filtered to users self-identifying race/ethnicity; January 1, 2017–May 3, 2021
Source: https://www.glassdoor.com/research

Highest Rated Sectors for AAPI Workers

The highest rated sectors for AAPI workers are education (4.25 out of 5 stars), government (4.09) and non-profit (3.93). Education is a sector where Asian Americans are disproportionately represented compared to other groups, especially in the Colleges & Universities subsector where the average rating is even higher (4.35).

Table 2: Average Overall Rating for AAPI Workers by Sector

SectorAverage Overall Rating – AAPI WorkersAverage Overall Rating – All Workers
Education4.253.97
Government4.093.82
Non-Profit3.933.54
Finance3.833.50
Travel & Tourism3.833.61
Insurance3.823.49
Arts, Entertainment & Recreation3.803.54
Information Technology3.783.56
Construction, Repair & Maintenance3.713.55
Aerospace & Defense3.703.52
Real Estate3.693.51
Oil, Gas, Energy & Utilities3.683.49
Manufacturing3.643.32
Restaurants, Bars & Food Services3.633.46
Telecommunications3.603.36
Health Care3.583.39
Accounting & Legal3.553.60
Business Services3.553.41
Transportation & Logistics3.503.24
Biotech & Pharmaceuticals3.493.45
Retail3.423.34
Media3.403.43
Consumer Services3.233.34
Note: Data filtered to users self-identifying race/ethnicity; January 1, 2017–May 2, 2021; only sectors with over 25 ratings are reported.
Source: https://www.glassdoor.com/research

The lowest rated sectors for AAPI workers are Consumer Services (3.23), Media (3.4) and Retail (3.42). Retail and Consumer Services are both industries with many lower-wage service jobs that tend to have lower job satisfaction in general. Interestingly, Media is also near the bottom of the list. For these sectors, the lower ratings for AAPI workers is similar to the lower ratings across all workers.

Some large sectors also have significant variation within them. For example, Business Services has an average overall rating of 3.55 for AAPI workers, but Advertising & Marketing, a subsector of Business Services, is rated 3.31 out of 5, joining Media near the bottom of the list.

AAPI workers are more heavily represented in industries featuring higher overall average ratings, partially explaining why AAPI workers have higher overall average ratings than other groups. Education, for example, is an industry where AAPIs are over-represented and where the rating overall is much higher than for other industries. In recent research from Glassdoor on satisfaction with diversity & inclusion efforts, much of the difference in satisfaction with diversity and inclusion efforts could be explained by job or company features like occupation or industry or demographics like gender or age. A similar phenomenon likely explains some of the difference in overall employee satisfaction between AAPI and white employees.

Ratings by AAPI Workers for Select Companies

Since Glassdoor launched new features allowing users to anonymously self-identify their race/ethnicity last year, AAPI workers have submitted reviews and ratings for over 6,000 companies. Below, we highlight a select group of companies with over 15 reviews from AAPI workers and the average overall rating from AAPI workers at the company, as well as the overall rating across all workers at the company and, as a further benchmark, overall ratings from all workers in the relevant sector.

Table 3: Average Overall Rating for Select Companies

EmployerSector# of RatingsAverage Overall Rating – AAPI Workers at CompanyAverage Overall Rating – All Workers at CompanyAverage Overall Rating – All Workers in Sector
AccentureBusiness Services254.043.703.55
AmazonInformation Technology693.483.373.78
Best BuyRetail183.283.733.42
CapgeminiInformation Technology173.473.393.78
Cisco SystemsInformation Technology164.254.073.78
Cognizant Technology SolutionsBusiness Services513.673.423.55
CVS HealthHealth Care183.002.863.58
DeloitteAccounting & Legal283.573.683.55
IBMInformation Technology163.753.403.78
InfosysInformation Technology353.773.403.78
Kaiser PermanenteHealth Care194.053.953.58
StarbucksRestaurants, Bars & Food Services293.793.813.63
TargetRetail263.883.723.42
Tata Consultancy ServicesInformation Technology333.883.823.78
The Home DepotRetail154.203.743.42
VerizonTelecommunications173.713.633.60
WalmartRetail333.483.213.42
Wells FargoFinance193.793.253.83
Note: Data filtered to users self-identifying race/ethnicity; January 1, 2017–May 2, 2021; only companies with over 15 ratings are reported.
Source: https://www.glassdoor.com/research

The data in the table above only includes workers who have self-identified their race/ethnicity. As more data is collected, we hope to offer these insights for more companies and more racial/ethnic groups.

Highest Rated Metropolitan Areas for AAPI Workers

The metropolitan areas where AAPI workers report the highest average Glassdoor rating are San Diego, CA (4.03 out of 5 stars), Boston, MA (4.02) and Sacramento, CA (3.94). By comparison, some of the lowest rated metros for AAPI workers are Houston, TX (3.63), Detroit, MI (3.67) and Dallas-Fort Worth, TX (3.67).

These discrepancies are due to a mix of factors, including local industry mix and size of the AAPI population, as well as in which industries local AAPI workers are concentrated. For example, Boston ranks highly due to having a large number of workers in Education, a sector featuring higher overall ratings and in which AAPI workers are disproportionately represented.

Table 4: Metropolitan Areas by Average Glassdoor Rating for AAPI Workers

Metropolitan AreaAverage Overall Rating – AAPI WorkersAverage Overall Rating – All Workers
San Diego, CA4.033.64
Boston, MA4.023.62
Sacramento, CA3.943.59
Washington, DC3.923.67
Phoenix, AZ3.893.50
San Jose, CA3.883.66
Portland, OR3.873.58
New York City, NY3.793.55
Chicago, IL3.793.56
Seattle, WA3.773.57
Atlanta, GA3.763.45
Philadelphia, PA3.753.52
Austin, TX3.743.66
Los Angeles, CA3.713.60
Denver, CO3.703.49
San Francisco, CA3.693.69
Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN3.683.65
Dallas-Fort Worth, TX3.673.46
Detroit, MI3.673.56
Houston, TX3.633.51
Note: Data filtered to users self-identifying race/ethnicity; January 1, 2017–May 2, 2021; only metropolitan areas with over 50 ratings are reported.
Source: https://www.glassdoor.com/research

Considerations to Keep in Mind

We caution against over-generalizing conclusions around race/ethnicity based on our research. While our data can highlight observed differences, it doesn’t fully explain why these differences may exist. Additionally, the data we’ve collected does not represent a traditional probability sample and may not proportionately represent certain populations.

For example, lower-wage workers in industries like Retail or Food Services may be underrepresented in our data, which could push up average ratings. For the AAPI population, subgroups like Chinese or Indian Americans may be over-represented while smaller Asian subgroups like Hmong or Burmese Americans may be under-represented. This is especially important as groups with large refugee populations like Hmong and Burmese Americans often face particularly significant challenges, including lower average incomes and higher poverty rates.

Recognizing the challenges that highly diverse AAPI populations face is important to address stereotypes like the model minority myth—the perception that Asians are an inherently successful minority group, an idea often used to minimize or deny the existence of significant barriers caused by systemic racism. Additionally, even if a subgroup has higher average ratings, that does not deny that individual workers may have better or worse experiences than the average.

While our hope is to offer insight into the current AAPI work experience, we acknowledge that we are not able to break down the data further to ensure we’ve proportionately captured the broad experience of all AAPI workers. The concern around properly representing AAPI diversity is significant and an issue that faces all data. In the future, as we collect more data, we hope to continue to share more research highlighting the experiences of the diverse AAPI population.

Conclusion

Our data highlights the experience of many AAPI employees in the workplace, showing that average ratings tend to be higher for AAPI workers than for other groups. While this difference is partially driven by AAPI over-representation in certain higher-rated industries like Education, these differences are also generally consistent across a variety of different industries. As we collect more data over time, we hope to share research highlighting how workplace culture is experienced differently by workers from different groups and to further explore the unique challenges being experienced by different groups in their work lives.

Endnotes

We take user privacy and anonymity very seriously and recognize that the demographic data used for this research is particularly sensitive. To ensure the privacy and anonymity of Glassdoor users was protected during our research, we relied only on personally de-identified data accessed within a secure research environment. In addition, before publishing these findings, we solicited and took into account feedback from Glassdoor’s own Diversity & Inclusion team and Glassdoor Asian Impact Network (GAIN) employee resource group.

Please consider contributing to this research by sharing your demographic information anonymously on Glassdoor. Your contribution helps us build the anonymized data resources that power research like this into understanding how employees from different backgrounds experience the workplace.

For more information, please see our media release about how to view Glassdoor company ratings and salaries for different demographic groups, and view these first-person stories about underrepresented groups in the workplace.