Chase Global Head of Asian and Pacific Islander Affairs shares her mission

As Global Head of Asian and Pacific Islander Affairs for JPMorgan Chase, Vivian Young says her mission is to drive opportunity and progress for Asian and Pacific Islander communities globally through advancement and economic inclusion. In this episode, she sits down with Women on the Move host Sam Saperstein to talk about that mission and to describe her own immigration story and how the immigrant experience has changed since then.

August 17, 2023

Seeking fuller representation

Vivian’s team is one of the most recently established of the seven Centers of Excellence in Diversity, Equity & Inclusion at JPMorgan Chase. Her priority, she says, is to bring a cultural lens to the broad API community. “Here in the United States, the Asian and Pacific Islander community is almost 24 million people that comprise over 30 different ethnicities and speak over a hundred different languages,” she tells Sam. “So I think it's really important for us to bring in that cultural dimension because we are not a monolith and honestly the term Asian American as a roll-up brings us together as a group. But what that does is it makes us invisible in that there's no representation for each of us.”

As a leader in a global organization, Vivian notes, making sure to attract and address the needs of employees, clients, and communities globally is a business imperative. She adds that a critically important step is addressing the model minority myth that all Asian Americans are doing well. “Because we are not as an aggregate,” she emphasizes, “When we roll up all of the information, our numbers look fantastic. But when you take apart the numbers, what you see is that Asian households are larger than normal. So if you have a household of four with a hundred thousand dollars, you'll look at the Asian community and sometimes it's eight people or 10 people in a household. So when you start peeling those layers of the onions, they're not doing as well as we think on the surface. Part of it is really illuminating that not everybody is doing well.

A full 360 immigrant experience

Vivian believes that it’s critically important to understand immigrants’ origin stories of how and why they came to the United States—because coming as refugees, through chain migrations, or through education or employment sponsorships are all vastly different experiences. Her own story was one of chain migration: “My uncle came here first. He joined the Navy and was an engineer and worked on a nuclear submarine. And then he sponsored my father who was an accountant and he came over and got a job and then a year or two later, he was able to sponsor my mother and myself to come to the country.”

Growing up, she said her parents wanted her to assimilate—and she wanted to also. She shares a memory of asking her mom not to make egg rolls when guests came over. Of her parents’ generation of Asian immigrants, she says that many had opened service businesses to be able to support their children, and then invested their entire life savings into educating their children so that they could enter a profession such as lawyer, doctor, or engineer.

But she says she’s seen a complete turn-around with her own children’s generation. For one thing, they are embracing their cultural heritage and food. “What we are seeing now with this generation is that they're embracing entrepreneurship and they're rejecting the corporate structure and saying, I want to go in and take a risk and create my own table and have my own business,” she says.

Diamond in the room

Today, Vivian advises others in the API community to embrace their differences. “Because if you are the only [Asian-American] in the room, it means that you are rare and you should embrace that difference,” she tells Sam. “Diamonds are rare. Think of yourself as the diamond in the room and own that. People don't invite you into spaces where you don't belong. So I think that is so critically important that when you are the only one in the room, that you represent yourself and your culture and have that pride because you are a diamond.”

Disclaimer: The speakers’ opinions belong to them and may differ from opinions of J.P. Morgan Chase & Co and its affiliates. Views presented on this podcast are those of the speakers; they are as of May 18th, 2023 and they may not materialize.