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INSPIRE 20 Podcast: Anna Mok, Ascend Leadership

Linda Rosencrance Freelance writer/editor
Anna Mok

For the past 15 years, Anna Mok, president and chairman of Ascend Leadership, a nonprofit, pan-Asian organization for business people in North America, has been helping professionals reach their full career potential so they can make a bigger impact in the workplace and in society.

Mok and several others started the organization because they realized that many Asian-Americans and Asian-Canadians in the corporate workforce were not in the executive suites or on corporate boards.

"We felt that it was really important to create this network of professionals that can support each other in our advancement but also do greater good in society and in the workplace."
Anna Mokfrom this INSPIRE 20 podcast

The INSPIRE 20 Podcast Series

Mok is one of the executives taking part in INSPIRE 20, a podcast series that showcases 20 executives from around the world who are making a difference in terms of inclusion and diversity in their organizations, communities, and/or their industries.

Listen to the podcast with Anna Mok on Apple Podcasts, SoundCloud, or Spotify. Plus: Catch up with all of the INSPIRE 20 series podcasts here.

Deep roots in Asia-Pacific culture

The Asia-Pacific leader for Deloitte & Touche LLP’s advisory practice, Mok leads the development and execution of the Asia-Pacific strategic plan for the business.

Mok, who was born in Hong Kong, immigrated to the San Francisco Bay Area with her parents when she was six months old. Although she grew up in the United States, Mok still has very strong family ties to Asia and has done a lot of work all over the world, especially in Asia and Europe.

In the podcast, Mok explains that, over the years, Ascend has been very successful in creating networking, learning, and development opportunities for Pan-Asians.

"We've also done a lot of work on thought leadership, so we've put out research pieces that really clarify and educate each of us on what's really the facts around Asian-American advancement and other workplace issues."

Responding to the pandemic

Mok also discusses the extra work Ascend has done in response to COVID-19, including expanding some of its charitable work, such as supporting small businesses, many of which are minority-owned, as well as aiding front-line healthcare workers.

In addition, Mok touches on the negative impact COVID-19 has had on Asian communities, in particular. People referring to the COVID virus as the "China virus" or believing that the virus was created or started in Asia has a negative impact that's led to acts of discrimination and hate crimes against Asian-Americans, according to Mok.

There's been a continued rise of what's called "microaggressions" in the workplace against people of color, but in particular against people of Asian descent, she said.

Mok also talks about the "model minority" myth of a minority group that's particularly successful, especially compared to other minority groups. She discusses this myth as it pertains to Asian-Americans in tech.

Mok explains what organizations have to do to attract, retain, and develop diverse talent, particularly Asian talent.

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