May 3, 2023
Publicly traded companies are becoming more diverse, especially in the ranks of its leadership. No longer the just the domain of white men, boardrooms are slowly, but surely, beginning to reflect our diverse society.
Asian Americans make huge contributions to the U.S. economy and according to Goldman Sachs Research, have an outsized presence in everything from sophisticated patents to Nobel Prizes. Despite huge strides in diversity, equity and inclusion efforts at publicly traded companies, the group still faces barriers when trying to reach the highest echelons of corporate America.
According to Goldman Sachs Research: “Asian Americans are the most highly educated group in the U.S. and have had marked success in terms of income and innovation: Despite only accounting for 6% of the population, Asian Americans represent 13% of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) jobs and were behind 19% of high-impact patents, according to Goldman Sachs Research. Since 1980, they’ve won one-out-of-10 Nobel Prizes in physics and chemistry. Asian Americans are over-represented in fast growing industries like information, corporate management and professional technical services.”
Even though Asian Americans make up 13% of professional positions at large employers, they hold just 6% of senior management positions. There remains a persistent gap between Asian American representation in entry-level professional positions and more senior management roles. And Goldman Sachs found that even when adjusted for age, U.S.-born Asian American men with graduate degrees are 15% less likely to be in executive positions than white men with the same education credentials. Moreover, research found that Asian Americans’ share of CEO positions in the S&P 500 Index of large U.S. companies has stalled at around 2% for the past decade. They are also the racial group least likely to be promoted to management positions, according to a Harvard Business Review analysis of U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission data. The “bamboo ceiling” described by author Jane Hyun in 2005 obviously still exists.
Asian Americans make up a small percentage of CEOs at public companies, but as Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month begins, it is important to take a look at how some of these leaders are making a major impact on the business world. The first was Gerald Tsai, a Chinese American who led American Can in 1986 to become the first CEO of AAPI descent to join the Fortune 500. Today, 2.4% of the Fortune 500 CEOs are AAPI.
Here are five for retail shareholders to watch and the companies they lead:
Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google and Alphabet (Tii:GOOG)
Google is one of the most valuable companies in the world. Pichai has been with Google since 2004 when he was hired to lead the development of its toolbar and its Chrome internet browser. He was named CEO in 2015 and since taking over, the company’s share price has grown in value. It is worth noting that Fitbit, which Google acquired a few years, was founded and led by Korean American James Park.
Eric Yuan, CEO of Zoom Video Communications (Tii:ZM)
Yuan founded the videoconferencing company after takin 10-hour train trips in his native China. Launched in 2013, Zoom had 400,000 people sign up within the first month, but the company became a critical communication tool during the pandemic. In 2020 alone, Zoom was downloaded 485 million times and since then, Zoom’s quarterly revenue has grown tremendously.
Satya Nadella, Executive Chairman and CEO of Microsoft (Tii:MSFT)
Nadella, who became CEO of Microsoft in 2014, 22 years after first joining the company, helped turn Microsoft around by investing heavily in the company’s cloud computing strategy. Nadella’s peers have named him the “most underrated” CEO for six consecutive years.
Lisa Su, Chairwoman and CEO of Advanced Micro Devices (Tii:AMD)
Su is responsible for turning things around at AMD when the company was on the brink of bankruptcy by focusing on the computer gaming, cloud and data-center markets. Prior to serving as president and CEO, Su was the chief operating officer responsible for integrating AMD’s business units, sales, global operations and infrastructure enablement teams into a single market-facing organization responsible for all aspects of product strategy and execution.
Jen-Hsun “Jensen” Huang, President and CEO of NVIDIA (Tii:NVDA)
Jensen Huang founded NVIDIA in 1993 and has served since its inception as president, chief executive officer and a member of the board of directors. Starting out in PC graphics, NVIDIA helped build the gaming market into the largest entertainment industry in the world today. The company’s invention of the GPU in 1999 made possible real-time programmable shading, which defines modern computer graphics, and later revolutionized parallel computing.
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