By Michelle Lim on Sep 16, 2019 8:30:00 AM
“Eh, this fella Chinese, confirm smart one!”
“Aiyo, Malay ah? They usually lazy one leh.”
“Yeeeee…. Indian? Sure they going out to drink again lah...”
Everyday Malaysian stereotypes.
But wait, what is a stereotype?
It’s basically a standardized perception or image of a group of people. It can also be called a projected image onto members of the same group (e.g: all Indians) due to past experiences. If it’s a projected image onto others, it’s usually a negative perception. Or an image that gives a lot of pressure to members of the same group.
Like, Chinese Malaysians are always believed to be good with numbers, great with business and everything.
Malays? They’re often thought of as lazy, and so face quite a bit of discrimination when they’re looking for jobs - according to a study by Hwok-Aun Lee and Muhammed Abdul Khaled called “Discrimination of high degrees: race and graduate hiring in Malaysia”.
Indians? Stereotyped as “drunkards”, “very scary or intimidating” - basically, rather negative perceptions.
But wait! We don't even know them well.
In short, everyone gets a ton of expectations. Having to live up to the expectation of being good with numbers, having to prove to others that you’re just as skilled, and having to prove that you deserve a chance.
The list goes on.
How does this affect us?
Graduate hiring in Malaysia
According to a study by Hwok-Aun Lee and Muhammed Abdul Khaled, “Discrimination of high degrees: race and graduate hiring in Malaysia”, it’s been found that employers tend to look at race rather than qualifications.
Even things like language proficiency and the languages that can be spoken by the potential employee are taken into account during the hiring process. It’s also found that applicants fluent in Mandarin tend to have an easier time getting hired. Foreign companies also tend to favour Chinese applicants, which means lesser job opportunities for other races and they struggle more to get a job. Malay resumes tend to be “pre-judged” negatively, which affects their chances of being hired.
Productivity in the workforce
It’s said that a diverse workforce can increase productivity and competitive advantages. This is cause employers can provide more solutions, fresh ideas and innovative processes into the company. Plus, it increases employee morale and motivation of employees~ And new skills, new methods!
But, by letting negative stereotypes and discrimination win, we lose out on innovation, on new thought processes and company improvement. We also lose out in terms of fresh ideas.
Soooo…creativity is lost.
Because behind diverse backgrounds and cultural experiences could lie ideas and approaches of gold just waiting to be used at the right time. Maybe it’s a new idea that can improve the administrative process or work effectiveness, or a new method in cancer research. But either way, they’re lost when we choose to look at the stereotyped image over what they’re truly capable of and truly are.
Language skills and community relations
In the workplace, a diverse workforce is great for companies that plan to expand into international markets around the world.
For instance, a company with employees that are fluent in Korean and understand Korean culture would fare much better communicating with representatives from Korea.
Or, if you run a business and have tons of employees fluent in Mandarin, you increase your presence and improve your company’s standing in the Chinese communities. An increased presence usually equals to an increase in sales ;)
In everyday life, learning new languages can be a ton of fun! Plus, they’ll be helpful if or when you travel around the globe. Experience unique cultures, learn their language and live like them, even. Immerse yourself in their world and culture.
At the end of the day...
Racial stereotypes shouldn’t determine how we treat others. In the end, stereotypes are just images. We should get to know them better and understand them, experience their culture. They are, after all, people just like you and me.